Coalition wants more Constitution Revision Commission hearings

As the Florida Constitution Revision Commission begins its debate this week on a slate of constitutional amendments for the 2018 ballot, a group of Democratic-leaning organizations is calling for more public hearings.

The commission has already received more than 1,000 proposals from the public and is expected to extend the filing deadline, because of Hurricane Irma, to Oct. 6. The 37 members of the commission will have until Oct. 31 to file their own proposals under the new schedule, with seven commissioner proposals filed thus far.

The coalition, which includes the Florida Education Association, the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida AFL-CIO, the ACLU and other groups, in a letter today asked the commission to consider another round of public hearings around the state “after the full commission has determined, by majority vote, which proposals will be further considered.”

“As was evident during the first round of public hearings, Florida’s citizens are concerned about a wide range of issues in our state. A second round of hearings after many issues are eliminated will allow citizens the opportunity to make focused and in-depth public comment about issues that have been determined to have a real chance of making it to the ballot,” the letter said. “And commissioners will have the benefit of that comment before they take their final vote.”

Additionally, the coalition asked the commission to hold itself to a strict interpretation of Florida’s open-government laws, including prohibiting private communication between two commissioners when they are discussing proposals.

The Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years and has the unique ability to place constitutional amendments directly on the ballot. Any proposals placed on the 2018 general election ballot by the CRC must be approved by at least 60 percent of the voters to be enacted.

— By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Groups demand more sunshine for Constitution Revision Commission

A coalition of left-leaning organizations and unions is decrying a decision by Constitution Revision Commission Chairman Carlos Beruff to hold a meeting of the full panel next week to vote on rules for the once-every-20-years overhaul of the state’s basic law.

A working group that had been named to make changes to the rules and propose them to the full CRC spent hours working on the document last week but only got about a third of the way through the assignment. So commission Chairman Carlos Beruff announced Friday in a letter that the entire commission will meet in Orlando and essentially start over with the initial draft.

“Your new plan for adopting rules undermines the work and recommendations of the Rules Working Group and it causes us to question whether your real motivation is to facilitate an end run around conclusions reached by a supermajority of the Group because those conclusions were not to your liking,” the coalition, which includes Florida branches of the ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and others, including Florida unions representing teachers and government workers.

The CRC should go back to the two-decade-old rules under which the last commission operated, suggested the group, which also includes Progress Florida, Mi Familia Vota, the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, and Florida Strong.

Read the full letter here.