For only the third time in the state’s history, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will meet in 2017 to review the framework that is the foundation of Florida’s government. The CRC’s review of Florida’s Constitution could impact every aspect of our daily lives- education, health care, natural resources, economic development, crime, taxes and how our local governments are run.
The CRC, comprised of thirty-seven members, meets once every two decades. CRC members will be appointed no later than February 2017 – Governor Rick Scott has 15 appointments, Senate President Joe Negron has nine appointments, House Speaker Richard Corcoran has nine appointments, and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga has three appointments. Governor Scott, Senate President Negron and Chief Justice Labarga are requesting that citizens interested in serving on the CRC apply through their websites.
Upon conclusion of the 2017 Session, the CRC will begin its work by holding public hearings. Amendments proposed by the CRC are not bound to a single subject requirement or Supreme Court review. Final proposals will be placed on the 2018 general election ballot, where they’ll need 60 percent voter support to pass.
Why is this important? The CRC has the authority to place constitutional amendments on the ballot. Hate “Save Our Homes”? The CRC can put an amendment on the ballot to restructure the state’s tax system. Tired of preemptions? The CRC could place an amendment on the ballot prohibiting them or limiting them by requiring, for example, that the legislature pass by a supermajority vote. Think about it from the opposite point of view, if entities who typically oppose local government efforts want to limit Home Rule power, the CRC process will give them that opportunity.
Every special interest group in the state wants appointees sympathetic with their views on the CRC. You’d better believe that we want local government represented on it as well! Whether or not we end up with a local government representative on the CRC, you as local government managers should be prepared to get engaged on proposals as they move through the process. If you were appointed to the CRC, what amendments would you propose?