The Constitution Revision Commission starts narrowing down proposals for Florida’s 2018 ballot

Still from the video of the CRC hearing in St. Pete

After months of committee meetings and public hearings, the state Constitution Revision Commission on Monday started narrowing a list of proposed constitutional amendments that could go on the November ballot.

The 37-member commission, which meets every 20 years, is considering nearly three-dozen ballot proposals that could go on the November general-election ballot.

The final 2018 public hearing was held last week in St. Petersburg, with over 1,200 people attending. You can watch video of that hearing an others here.

Among proposals being considered is one that has attracted several amendments related to gun control in the wake of the February 14th mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. One amendment would require anyone purchasing a firearm to be 21 years old, while requiring at least a three-day waiting period after a gun purchase to carry out a “comprehensive background check.” Another would ban assault-style weapons.

Among other proposals are plans to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges, ban greyhound racing and ban vaping in workplaces.

Much of the discussion Monday, on various issues, was whether or not the ideas belong in the state constitution, regardless of their merit.

Commissioner Tom Lee, a Republican state Senator sponsoring the greyhound proposal, says the whole purpose of the CRC is to take on the issues that the legislature won’t.

“This body has a unique opportunity to go directly to the voters, with things that the special interest groups have been successful time and time and time again at killing in the Florida legislature.” he told reporters.

Commissioner Jose Felix Diaz, a former Republican state representative from Miami-Dade County, says putting too many of the three dozen proposals on the ballot will be confusing to voters this fall.

“When we look at our most sacred, sacrosanct document,” said Felix Diaz, “what can be accomplished there and there alone, and what can be accomplished elsewhere by legislative enactment and statute?”

Proposals approved this week will go to the Style and Drafting Committee, which will play a key role in refining them and creating ballot titles.

Plans making it beyond that committee will return to the full commission where they must receive at least 22 votes from the 37-member group to be placed on the November 2018 general election ballot. You can see the current CRC’s documents and schedule here.

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