Miami Herald by Mary Ellen Klas and Lawerence Mower
April 20, 2018
The eight amendments added to the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission may be a collection of disparate ideas — banning greyhound racing and oil drilling, expanding charter schools and victims’ rights — but to their proponents, they’re a logical bundling of initiatives that prepare the state for the future.
To constitution experts, as well as some former members of the CRC, the proposed amendments may be doomed.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if everything fails,” said Mary E. Adkins, professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
Adkins, who has studied the political history of Florida’s Constitution and authored the 2016 book, “Making Modern Florida: How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New State Constitution,” compared the 2018 commission to the CRC of 1978, when voters rejected all eight proposals.
The panel has the unique power to place amendments before voters to modernize the state constitution once every 20 years. In 1978, all but four of the 37-member commission were Democrats. In 2018, all but three were Republicans — 14 appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, nine by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, nine by Senate President Joe Negron and three by Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga.
“In 1978, they created a very ambitious agenda and they had some extremely liberal proposals and probably more liberal than voters were willing to do, so they lost every one,” Adkins said.
“The mirror image of that happened this year,” she said. “The group was nearly all Republicans and, sure enough, it appears its agenda is the agenda of the appointers.”
Concerned about “voter fatigue” from a long ballot that also includes five amendments from the Legislature and citizens’ initiatives, the commission attempted to find common themes among the varied proposals and bundled several of them together into six amendments.
The stand-alone amendments, such as a new ethics standard for elected officials and a phase-out of greyhound racing, give voters a clear idea of what is intended, but Adkins warns that if voters are frustrated that they can’t pick and choose between the ideas they like and those they don’t because they are bundled together, they may reject them all.