SARASOTA (WWSB) - A move to end the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is ready to go to the Senate floor after a controversy last year about the powerful panel that tied together unrelated issues in proposed constitutional amendments.
The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a proposal that would ask voters in 2020 to eliminate the commission.
The commission meets every 20 years to consider changes to the state Constitution. Topics that address bundling vaping and oil drilling were first brought to attention by last year’s commission.
These topics range from ending greyhound racing to strengthening lobbying restrictions. Senator Tom Lee, a member of last year’s Constitution Revision Commission, voted against the proposal and he feels the makeup of the commission allows it to tackle issue the legislature won’t.
“Abandoning and abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission is kind of knee jerk, and an overreaction," Lee said.
However, bill sponsor Jeff Brandes feels there is limited accountability of appointees to the commission, whose members were largely appointed by former Governor Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders.
“I have grave concerns about the overall process," Brandes said. "I think the process that we have of citizen petitions and the process that we have of moving joint resolutions through the legislature is sufficient. It provides ample access to the citizens of the state of Florida.”
The CRC put seven amendments on the November ballot, all of which were approved by voters. But the controversy focused on decisions such as combining a ban on offshore oil drilling and a ban on workplace vaping in a single constitutional amendment. The House version of the proposal is also ready to be taken up by the full chamber.