TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida House on Wednesday moved to repeal a powerful commission charged with placing constitutional amendments before voters.
On a 93-25 vote, the House sent the joint resolution to the Senate. If the Senate also approves, it would send the matter to voters in November.
The Constitution Revision Commission was established in 1968 and meets once every 20 years to consider measures to put before the state’s electorate.
“Maybe it served a valid purpose at one time,” said Rep. Brad Drake, a Republican.
“Their purpose was to make revisions to the constitution,” he said, “not to become policy makers —- that’s our job.”
The commission last met in 2018 and placed seven measures on the ballot — all of which were approved by voters.
Among those measures was a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling and vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces — which raised questions about keeping measures to a single issue. Another measure barred public officials from lobbying for compensation while in office and six years thereafter.
Opponents argued that the 37-member commission should be revamped, not thrown out. Members are appointed by the governor and the legislative leaders.
“This seems to me a little extreme to throw the whole thing out,” said Rep. Loranne Ausley, a Democrat.
Ballot measures can make it before voters in one of five ways: by legislative action, a citizens initiative, through a constitutional convention or placed on the ballot by one of two commissions — the Constitution Revision Commission or the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.
“Don’t get rid of the CRC just because they put bad questions on the ballot,” said Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith. Instead, he said, “we should be reforming it.”