It’s your constitution and you can change it if you want to!

May 10, 2018

There are several ways to amend the Florida Constitution. The Legislature can do it through a joint resolution. The average Floridian can do it through the citizen initiative process. There’s the taxation and budget reform commission. And then there’s the Constitution Revision Commission.

Southwest Floridians got the chance to learn a little bit more about that last option during a panel discussion on the Constitution Revision Commission at the May 9 Wake Up Naples hosted by The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. The discussion featured CRC Commissioners Erika Donalds and Tom Grady, and was facilitated by Pat Barton, who was Southwest Florida’s only representative on the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission.

The breakfast came hours before CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff submitted the commission’s proposals to Secretary of State Ken Detzner for inclusion on the Nov. 6 ballot, and gave attendees the opportunity the learn more about the commission, the process of submitting an amendment, and what could end up on the ballot.

Barring legal challenges, voters will see eight amendments on their ballot that were approved by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. Commissioners bundled 20 proposals into the following eight amendments:

— Amendment 6 would establish a series of rights for crime victims, including notification of major developments in criminal cases. It also increases the mandatory retirement age for judges to 75 and changes the standards of certain administrative law cases.

— Amendment 7 would address a variety of issues dealing with first responders and higher education. That amendment establishes a governing system for Florida’s 28 state and community colleges and requires a supermajority vote by university boards of trustees and the Board of Governors to increase fees. It also requires death benefits be paid when first responders are killed in the line of duty.

— Amendment 8 would impose term limits on school board members and limits the authority of school boards to schools established by that board. The amendment also requires civic literacy be taught in public schools.

— Amendment 9 has been dubbed the clean water, clean air” amendment by its backers. The amendment would prohibit oil and gas drilling in designated state waters. It would also ban vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces.

— Amendment 10 would address a series of government structures, including requiring charter counties to have elected constitutional officers, such as the sheriff. It also would require the Legislature to convene its annual 60-day session in January in even-numbered years, revise the authority of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and create the Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism under the Department of Law Enforcement.

— Amendment 11 would remove language authorizing high-speed rail, as well as language that prohibits people ineligible for citizenship from owning property. It also revises language to clarify that the repeal of a criminal statute doesn’t impact the prosecution of a crime committed prior to the repeal.

— Amendment 12 imposes a six-year lobbying ban on former state and local elected officials, as well as agency heads. It also puts in a variety of new ethics standards.

— Amendment 13 would ban greyhound racing in Florida after Dec. 31, 2020.

The eight CRC proposals will join five other constitutional amendments on the ballot this November. Constitutional amendments need 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Want to learn more about the proposals OK’d by the Constitution Revision Commission? Click here to read the final report detailing each of the eight proposals.

Want to vote on these amendments and much more in November? Visit the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office to register to vote or update your voter information.