Hundreds of concerns automatically signed up to lobby constitutional review board

Constitution Revision Commission

The list of companies, nonprofits and others who were registered to lobby the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) now stretches to 55 pages, according to the state’s Lobbyist Registration Office.

But many, if not most, of those may be from the state automatically adding names to that lobbying registry—and from lobbyists who haven’t yet “unchecked” their box for the CRC.

The commission, which convenes every 20 years to review and rewrite the state’s governing document, holds its next public hearing 5 p.m. Wednesday on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

If you believe the state, the roll call of interests who want to lobby for a constitutional amendment runs from Wall Street (JPMorgan Chase) to Main Street (Killearn Home Association, a neighborhood group in Tallahassee).

Nearly all who have already addressed commissioners at public hearings appears to be “civilians”: Concerned citizens, especially those with an interest in one issue, such as abortion.

Lobbying revision commissioners is covered by the state law that also governs lobbying executive-branch agencies.

It defines lobbying to include “influencing or attempting to influence, on behalf of another, the Constitution Revision Commission’s action or nonaction through oral or written communication or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a member or employee of the Constitution Revision Commission.”

For now, the official CRC lobbying list includes hospitals (Tampa General), institutions of higher learning (Barry University), a slew of individual cities, media organizations (Courthouse News Service), utilities (Duke Energy), and even individuals.

Jennifer Wohlgemuth is being represented by Hayden Dempsey and Gus Corbella, lobbyists from Greenberg Traurig. She was seriously injured when a Pasco County sheriff’s deputy slammed into her car during a pursuit in 2005.

Wohlgemuth still is seeking a $2.6 million claim bill from the Legislature to fully compensate her for her injuries, which include “behavior and impulse control similar to those of a 10-year-old child,” “severe memory loss (and) partial loss of vision.”

On Tuesday, however, Dempsey said his lobbying registration for the CRC was one of the automatic additions. “I don’t think we’ll be asking for a constitutional amendment for a claim bill,” he said.

Carlos Beruff, the commission’s chairman, also on Tuesday announced more dates and locations for public hearings:

— Wednesday, April 26 in Gainesville (Alachua County).

— Thursday, April 27 in Jacksonville (Duval County).

— Wednesday, May 3 in Bay County.

— Wednesday, May 10 in Lee County.

— Wednesday, May 17 in Hillsborough County.

“This historic process gives Florida voters an opportunity to change the framework of our government,” Beruff said in a statement. “You don’t need to be a policy expert to have a good idea.”

The schedule also means that the five sitting lawmakers on the commission will have to choose between attending those hearings or being at the ongoing Legislative Session, which doesn’t end till May 5.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


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