Constitution Revision Commission ignores the public

Cartoon by Bill Day, Florida Politics

Tampa Bay Times by Daniel Ruth
October 25, 2017

You could be forgiven if you thought the Florida Constitution Revision Commission was going to result in a wave of grass-roots populism that would make Bernie Sanders look like an elitist Wall Street snob.

After all, the 37-member commission traveled across the state holding public hearings under a huge banner that read: “Floridians Speak We Listen.”

With fingers crossed, perhaps?

That is the problem, isn’t it? Once you start asking the great unwashed what they think, you run the risk members of the public will actually tell you what they think. This charade of pretending you care about public opinion can get awkward.

You could say the CRC’s books were going to be cooked from the beginning. After all, the commission includes Attorney General Pam Bondi and members appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and three others by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.

This was not exactly shaping up as an Age of Enlightenment exercise, especially after a Scott ally, real estate developer and failed U.S. Senate Republican candidate Carlos Beruff, was named to chair the commission.

The CRC meets every 20 years to revise the state’s guiding legal document. The last time it gathered hardly anyone had heard of Google, and cellphones were at best rudimentary. So you would think the commission would have its work cut out for it to drag the state into the 21st century, since it seems perpetually stuck in the 18th.

After holding its hearings and beckoning the citizenry to offer up its ideas, the CRC announced a few days ago that of the 2,012 public submissions, only six proposals made the cut, or about 0.3 percent of the total citizen input.

Some of the ideas advanced included measures providing Floridians a clean environment, closing a loophole in the homestead exemption that allows felons to hide property assets, a right to privacy provision and another privacy proposal to block certain access to public information. [READ MORE]

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