June 5, 2017
Amendments that seek to alter proposed rules for the Constitution Revision Commission, and thus require the 37-member body to abide by the highest standards of Florida’s open-government and Sunshine laws, will be considered Tuesday.
When the commission meets in Orlando, its members should embrace the amendments filed by former senators Tom Lee and Don Gaetz, and others.
It’s unfortunate the amendments are even necessary.
But, as we have written previously, a “working draft” of rules to govern the commission inexplicably consolidated power in the hands of the chairman — Carlos Beruff, a developer based in Manatee County — and undermined key open-government principles.
The amendments include a simple yet powerful statement: “All proceedings and records of the commission shall be open to the public.”
This language tackles two serious problems with the “working draft.”
• The draft stated that records of the commission “shall be accessible,” leaving out “open,” the term appropriately used by previous commissions.
• The draft sought to allow commission members to discuss public business in private. This proposal is particularly egregious, as it seeks to exempt members from a key provision of the Sunshine Law — which applies to virtually every other collegial body in Florida, including city councils and county commissions — in conflict with provisions in the state constitution.
The Beruff-backed rule sought to allow private meetings of two commissioners discussing commission business. [READ MORE]