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First Constitution Revision Appointments

February 6th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The most common ways for recommending amendments to the states constitution are by citizen initiative or by the state legislature. but once every 20 years, an appointed Constitution Revision Commission tackle what citizens or politicians can’t. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the first three of 37 appointments were made today.

37 people selected by the states political and judicial leadership will shape recommendations to change the state’s basic document. Chief Justice Jorge Larbarga appointed his three members. They are a Jacksonville lawyer, a former state senator and civil rights activist from Tampa, and a Miami immigration lawyer who was close to Jeb Bush.

The Chief Justice said he asked nothing in return.

“I’m appointing them for their experience and their judgment based on that experience, and their appreciation of the three branches of government” Labarga told reporters.

The Chief Justice could have appointed himself but did not. He’s got just one thing on his wish list.

“If I had to ask for an ask, it would be the preservation of an independent judiciary to render decisions.”

This past November nearly half the state legislature was elected in a closed primary.  the 1998 revision commission sought to fix that, but a loophole has kept Democrats from voting for Republicans and vice versa. Political Scientist Carol Weissert says fixing the so called write in loophole would better reflect the states purple nature.

“In this day and time when we have so many NPA’s in the state, particularly the young people. is this something we want to do for the next 20 years?” asks Weissert.

The Commission makes its own rules, and it can do just about anything it wants, and the only check is that it has to be approved by voters.”

The commission has only met twice in the states history. In 1978 voters turned down 5 proposed amendments. In 1998, eight to ten ideas were approved.

Governor Rick Scott has 16 appointments to the revision commission, including naming its chair. The House Speaker and Senate President each have 9 appointments. Questions about judicial independence and an independent funding source for the courts are expected to produce heated debate when the commission meets.

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