Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission Is Unelected, Unaccountable, and Unnecessary
On November 8, Floridians will have the unique opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that would abolish a commission that proposes constitutional amendments.
Amendment 2 proposes abolishing the state’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), a 37-member body that meets every 20 years to review and propose changes to the Florida Constitution. While the commission’s creation and purpose seem well-intentioned, it doesn’t seem to be working as planned.
Prior to 1968, when the state was still under the Constitution of 1885, amendments to the document could only be proposed and placed on the ballot through the Legislature. Legislative seats were severely malapportioned as the state struggled to keep up with its growing population, and voters—especially in South Florida—didn’t feel that they were adequately represented. After the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Florida to redraw district lines and urban voters gained more representation, a new constitution was proposed in 1968 that provided four ways for voters to propose constitutional amendments: by a legislative joint resolution, by holding a constitutional convention, by citizens’ initiative, or by a recurring revision commission. Thus, the Florida CRC was born. It was—and still is—the only automatically recurring constitutional revision commission in the United States.
The CRC has met three times since its creation: in 1977, 1997, and 2017, with its next meeting set for 2037. Fifteen of the 37 commissioners are appointed by the governor at the time, nine are appointed by the state Senate president, nine more are appointed by the speaker of the state House of Representatives, and three are appointed by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. The state attorney general is also a member of the CRC. The commission reviews proposals submitted by both the public and its own members. Proposals must pass two rounds of votes in order to reach the ballot.
Opponents of Amendment 2 argue that the CRC provides voters with an additional way to make their voices heard and be involved in the constitutional revision process. Indeed, it did approve multiple ballot measures in its 2017 session that were popular with voters in the 2018 elections.
But other measures the CRC approved that same year proved problematic. “In a
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