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CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff and other commission members take part in a public hearing at the University of Central Florida.

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House moves forward on constitutional panel repeal

Changes brewing for Constitutional amendments.

The controversial Constitutional Revision Commission is one step closer to repeal.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee was the final committee stop for two bills poised to eliminate the appointed commission.

Democrats spoke against and even tried to amend one of the bills, but to no avail.

HJR 301 and HB 303, filed by Rep. Brad Drake, would repeal the CRC and remove statutory references.

Though the repeal bill passed the Senate last year by a 35-4 vote, it died without a full House hearing. Given the House committee fast-track ahead of the 2020 Session, that fate looks unlikely this year.

Drake’s testimony in favor of the bills was familiar to those who have followed his efforts over the last two Sessions.

“Pandora’s box has opened,” Drake said, noting that the previous CRC overstepped by addressing “policy matters.”

“That should offend everyone up here … that some unelected committee could take our place,” Drake added.

An unfriendly amendment by Democratic Rep. Dianne Hart sought to undermine the bill by keeping the CRC and changing appointments to give the Legislature more appointment power, but it failed.

In 2018, the CRC irked lawmakers and observers by “bundling” unrelated propositions in amendments.

Amendment 9, which banned offshore drilling and vaping in indoor workplaces, was the most notable of the several odd combinations from the CRC.

In a surprise given the incongruity of the propositions, nearly 69 percent of voters approved that amendment, even as editorial boards and others wondered why the two bans were yoked together.

The 2019 Session saw high dudgeon from lawmakers; the 2020 Session, though the rhetoric is less white-hot on the issue, seems to promise resolution.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the end of the 2019 Session that he backed repeal, citing the bundling issue as a major source of irritation.

“I didn’t have enough bandwidth to propose it, but I would like to see the CRC eliminated,” DeSantis said. “I think what happened last election with some of those bundled amendments was not good.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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