Florida’s vicennial Constitution Revision Commission is drawing fire for a lack of transparency in scheduling a vote on a package of procedural rules for changes to the state’s constitution.
A letter Wednesday from a coalition of advocacy groups said CRC Chair Carlos Beruff is throwing shade on the process by disbanding the eight-person Rules Working Group, and instead scheduling a meeting in Orlando June 6 of the full commission to consider and vote on a “complex and lengthy set of rules” he proposed.
The CRC meets every 20 years to hear public input and propose changes to the Florida Constitution.
“We are pleased that you see the urgency of moving forward with adopting rules,” the letter said. “However, we write to question your method of moving forward and urge you to rethink your plan.”
Among the progressive and labor groups signing the letter include leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Florida Common Cause, Florida AFL-CIO, Florida Policy Institute, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Planned Parenthood, among others.
“To observers of the May 17 meeting of the Rules Working Group,” the letter continues, “it was clear that a supermajority of members recognized that Florida’s open government laws guide the way we do government in Florida, are respected throughout the country and should not be watered down in the CRC rules.”
Citing the rules agreed on the last time the commission met, in 1997-1998, the letter said amendments proposed by Beruff seem “calculated put the power of the CRC in your hands and in the hands of a very small group of insiders who you choose for important committees.”
The group also objects to several proposed amendments that they say were “calculated to allow some CRC work to be done out of the Sunshine.”
The letter also points to several draft rules that deviate from previous CRC’s, relating to a lack of transparency and respect for the Sunshine Rules; a lack of articulated provisions for meaningful public engagement; the potential for leverage and influence over commission members; and an unclear track for approval of proposals.
The letter concludes with a suggestion that the only viable solution is for the Commissioners “to reject any change to the 1997-1998 rules that worked so well for the last CRC and adopt them ‘as is’ for the important work you are undertaking.”
The full letter is available below: