Orlando Sentinel by Carlos Beruff, Guest Columnist
October 3, 2017
Over the past six months, the Constitution Revision Commission has been traveling across the state listening to Floridians and their ideas about what should be in the Florida Constitution. Thousands of Floridians have showed up to our public hearings, and thousands more have shared their ideas with the CRC through our website (flcrc.gov), email and social media.
When Gov. Rick Scott appointed me as chairman of the CRC, I made it my priority to get the public involved. In a state as large and diverse as Florida, I knew this would be a sizable task. However, as someone who has spent more than 35 years at the intersection of business and public service, I know that my fellow commissioners and I can’t debate the issues in a vacuum.
You don’t need to “be connected,” be a lawyer or have extraordinary financial resources to get involved in the CRC. The CRC, which is comprised of 37 commissioners and occurs only once every 20 years, is an opportunity for even just one Floridian to have significant impact.
However, it should also be noted that not all ideas for our state belong in the Florida Constitution. The truth is, many ideas or proposed changes to government are better served within other areas of the law, such as the Florida Statutes or local county ordinances.
Why, you ask? The Florida Constitution is the foundational legal document of our state. Not only does it outline our fundamental rights as Florida citizens, it determines the structure of our state’s legislative, judicial and executive branches. The Florida Constitution embodies the guiding principles of our government.
The 2017-2018 CRC is the third of its kind in Florida history, and our job is to examine the Florida Constitution and possibly propose changes for voter consideration. It is one of only five ways that the Florida Constitution can be changed.
Compared to previous commissions, we’ve already received a historic amount of public input. Social media and the Internet have created more access to the CRC process than ever before. In addition to our public hearings, we have received more than 1,400 (and counting) proposed constitutional amendments from the public.
As we review these proposals and comments, it is clear that Floridians share many of the same interests in similar subject areas. Several commissioners have observed this strong interest and are in the process of filing their own proposals based on the public input we have received.
The CRC must complete its work by next May, and we have a lot of work to do before we finish. That is why we have adopted Oct. 6 as the deadline for public proposals to be filed. This deadline, which we previously extended due to the impact of Hurricane Irma on Floridians, ensures that all public proposals are given the proper review and consideration they deserve.
I encourage all interested Floridians who want to have a voice in this process to get involved and send us your proposed constitutional amendments by Friday. We accept them by mail and email. We also have a submission tool on flcrc.gov, which helps you create and submit a proposal.
When you are considering sending the CRC a proposed constitutional amendment, ask yourself, “What is worthy of inclusion in the Florida Constitution?” In fact, tell us why your proposal should be included in the constitution, rather than other areas of state law, by sending us an email, giving us a call or reaching out to us on social media (@FloridaCRC).
Keep in mind that Florida voters will have the final say on the CRC’s work. Any proposals recommended by the CRC will go directly onto Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot for voter consideration. All proposed constitutional amendments must secure at least 60 percent voter approval before they can become law.
Any proposed changes should benefit Florida families, businesses and students for decades to come. The more people who get involved in our democracy, the better. Consider this an open invitation to share your ideas with the CRC. We hope to hear from you. [READ MORE]
Carlos Beruff is the chairman of the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission and CEO of Medallion Home Gulf Coast LC homebuilders.