A proposal that could lead to the end of the Constitution Revision Commission now has a House partner after Rep. Mike Beltran filed that resolution Friday afternoon.
The Lithia Republican’s legislation (HJR 1179) would put the question of whether to eliminate the commission before voters on the 2022 General Election ballot. St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes‘ version (SJR 204) passed its second and final Senate committee on Thursday and now awaits a floor vote.
The CRC is one of five methods in Florida to amend the state constitution. It meets every 20 years to place proposed amendments directly on the ballot.
Both sides of the aisle, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, have criticized the commission for “bundling” topics together in one proposed amendment, such as linking a ban on offshore oil drilling with a ban on vaping in workplaces.
For the Legislature to place a proposed amendment before voters, two thirds of both chambers must vote in favor of the amendment. That equates to the full Republican caucus plus three Democratic senators and two Democratic representatives.
Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer and two other members of his caucus voted against Brandes’ resolution Thursday, but two Democrats voted in favor of it, including former Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson.
Last Session, the proposal sailed through the committee process with unanimous approval, but it never received a vote in the full Senate. Representatives in the House passed a similar amendment 93-25. Those roles were flipped in 2019, when the Senate passed the proposal 35-4 while the House version floundered.
The CRC’s 37 members are the Attorney General, 15 Governor appointees, nine Senate President appointees, nine House Speaker appointees and three appointees made by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
The commission was created as part of Florida’s constitutional overhaul in 1968 and first met from 1977 to 1978.
The latest session, 2017-18, included appointees by Gov. Rick Scott, former House Speaker Richard Corcoran and former Senate President Joe Negron. That year’s Amendment 9, which banned offshore drilling and vaping in indoor workplaces, was the most notable of the several odd combinations from the CRC. Voters passed that amendment with 69% approval, far exceeding the necessary 60% threshold to finalize constitutional amendments.
DeSantis announced his support for repeal at the end of the 2019 Session, 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.”