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These 24 Ideas Could Appear on Florida’s Ballot in November

Exempted from Tampa Bay Times

04/04/18 by Peggy Tucker, Issues Chair

Florida voters would see 24 proposals rolled into 12 amendments on the November ballot under a preliminary proposal unanimously adopted by the Style and Drafting Committee of the powerful Constitution Revision Commission.

The proposal was prepared by Commissioner Brecht Heuchan, chair of the committee, which has the power to decide which amendments get rewritten, which get merged with others, and which get weakened.

The CRC has the unique authority to put amendments directly on the ballot if 22 members of the 37-member commission approve. Under the proposal tentatively agreed to last week, here's what voters would see:

Six proposals would stand on their own and not be merged with others: Proposal 39, which expands the ban on lobbying by former public offices, restricts current public officers from lobbying and prohibits the use of public office for public benefit; Proposal 93, which allows innovative and high-performing school districts to have the same flexibility as charter schools; Proposal 11, which closes the write-in loophole for elections; Proposal 29, which requires employers to verify the immigration status of their employees; and Proposal 67, which bans greyhound racing in Florida.

Proposal 10, which calls for expanding civics education in public schools, would be tethered to Proposal 71 to allow the state — in addition to school boards — to authorize charter schools and to Proposal 43, to limit the terms of school board members.

Proposal 91, which bans oil and gas drilling in state-owned waters, would be merged with Proposal 65, which adds vaping to the indoor smoking ban.

Proposal 44, which requires a super-majority vote by university trustees to raise fees, would be tied to two other ideas: Proposal 49, which provides college tuition for survivors of first responders and military who die in the line of duty; and Proposal 83, which establishes the state college system in the Constitution.

Proposal 13, which would require Miami-Dade County to elect its sheriff, will be rolled together with three other initiatives: Proposal 26, which creates an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Proposal 9, which makes the Department of Veteran's Affairs a constitutionally required office; and Proposal 103, which changes the start date of the legislative session in even-numbered years from March to January.

Three proposals to eliminate obsolete laws would be grouped together: Proposal 3, relating to the Alien Land Law; Proposal 12, authorizing high speed rail in Florida; and Proposal 20, which cleans up criminal statutes.

Three proposals relating to the court system would be merged: Proposal 96, which imposes new victims' rights in court proceedings; Proposal 6, which gives judges independent authority to interpret statutes rather than deferring to an agency; and Proposal 41, which extends the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75.

Each of the 24 ideas had been given preliminary approval by the full commission but the grouping now needs 22 votes to make it to the November ballot.

Four of the proposals — the employment verification plan, prohibiting state buildings from being named after current elected officials, elimination of the write-in loophole in elections, and the greyhound ban — fell short of the 22 votes in the first round. Several members expressed concern that tying them together would be seen as an attempt to prop up less popular measures with more popular ones.

The full commission will vote on the proposals as presented by the committee but it can amend any of them with 22 votes, Heuchan said.

The CRC meets every 20 years and has the unique power to place constitutional amendments directly on the November ballot. It has a May 10 deadline to complete its work. Ballot proposals will need support of 60 percent of the voters to become law.

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