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Group launches education, outreach campaign gearing up for constitutional review

Every 20 years, a group convenes to review the Florida Constitution and recommend changes to go before voters for approval. The LeRoy Collins Institute is launching an education and outreach effort aimed at getting ready for that process. The 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission will consist of 37 appointees.

In all, 18 groups from across the state are coming together to form the Partnership for Revising Florida’s Constitution. The partnership will oversee a public education outreach campaign aimed at outlining the importance of updating the constitution and encouraging citizens to get involved in the process.

A kickoff event is scheduled Wednesday at the Florida State University Turnbull Conference Center from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. There will be three panel discussions including members of previous commissions.

Participants include former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez, former commissioner Jim Apthorp from the 1977-1978 commission, and Dr. Carol Weissert, director of the LeRoy Collins Institute. The group is expected to discuss lessons from previous commissions, past and future constitutional issues, and the importance of the upcoming review.

“The Constitution Revision Commission only happens once every 20 years and it is too important for citizens to miss out on,” Weissert said. “We want the people of Florida to understand how crucial their participation is and encourage them to get involved at every step of the process.”

For those outside the Tallahassee area, the forum is televised on the Florida Channel website via live stream.

The LeRoy Collins Institute along with The Florida Bar and the Florida Law Related Education Association will also release the “Citizens’ Guide to the Constitution Revision Commission.” That resource breaks down information about the revision commission into a more basic and easy-to-understand format for citizens. Florida residents can read a copy of that at the commission’s website. Paper copies will also be distributed at various locations throughout the state.

The Jesse Ball DuPont Fund is sponsoring the Partnership for Revising Florida’s Constitutions. Other partnerships include the Bob Graham Center at UF, the Center for Governmental Responsibility at UF, the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Florida Association of Counties, The Florida Bar, Florida Bar Foundation, the Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida Justice Association Research and Education Foundation, Florida Law Related Education Association, Florida League of Cities, Florida Philanthropic Network, Florida Press Association, Florida Tax Watch, Justin Sayfie, Leadership Florida, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida NAACP, and the Virgil Hawkins Chapter of the National Bar Association.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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