Q&A of the Day – The Constitution Revision Commission 

Today’s entry: Brian, If Florida is the only state with a constitutional committee how did we get it in the first place? Was it always a bad idea or was there a good purpose originally? Thanks. 

Bottom Line: Today’s question is in response to my recommendation for a “yes” vote on Florida’s Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2, on our ballots this November. As I mentioned in issuing my recommendation... It’s arbitrary to have a commission of unelected commissioners gather every 20 years for the sole purpose of proposing constitutional amendments. There are numerous issues with this type of process. But one of the biggest apparent issues is the mandate. When you have 37 people who get together only every twenty years for the sole purpose of potentially putting stuff on our ballots, they get carried away. As I also pointed out... There are two prominent ways in which a proposed constitutional amendment can make its way to our ballots. The first is the by the state legislature, as this proposal has been presented. The second is by a citizen led initiative. Both are far more directly accountable to voters than an unelected body gathering every 20 years. So where did this concept come from, and did it ever make sense? 

The Florida Constitution Revision commission is authorized under Section 2 of Article XI of Florida’s Constitution. The text states: Within thirty days before the convening of the regular session of the legislature, and each twentieth year thereafter, there shall be established a constitution revision commission composed of the following thirty-seven members: 

(1) the attorney general of the state; 

(2) fifteen members selected by the governor; 

(3) nine members selected by the speaker of the house of representatives and nine members selected by the president of the senate; and 

(4) three members selected by the chief justice of the supreme court of Florida with the advice of the justices. 

(b) The governor shall designate one member of the commission as its chair. Vacancies in the membership of the commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. 

(c) Each constitution revision commission shall convene at the call of its chair, adopt its rules of procedure, examine the constitution of the state, hold public hearings, and, not later than one hundred eighty days prior to the next general election, file with the custodian of state records its proposal, if any, of a revision of this constitution or any part of it. 

This commission wasn’t the vision of Florida's founders. It was created by the Florida Legislature in 1968. The justification for this centered around this concept: Constitution revision commissions occupy a middle ground between what might be termed passing popular passions-individual changes that can be dealt with as a citizens' initiative-and total constitutional redrafting, when a constitutional convention is called for.  

For conversational purposes think of this as the progressive “living breathing” constitution concept. The public justification for this was the argument that the Revision Commission was a reform of “Direct Democracy”. In reality, it was the opposite as the commission was comprised of unelected appointees with no accountability to voters. Incidentally, the 1968 session was one of the most transformative in Florida’s history as big swings at the state’s constitution and makeup were made. Aside from the Constitution Revision Commission, Disney’s Ready Creek Improvement District, which is in the process of being dissolved, was established. So yes, it’s apropos that at the same time Governor DeSantis is unwinding Ready Creek, Florida’s voters also disband the Constitution Revision Commission. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.  

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Gettr, Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio  

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.  

Florida sign

Photo: Getty Images

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