The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) has announced that Friday, October 6, is the deadline for members of the public to submit proposals for changing our state’s constitution.
That same day, historian and author Mary E. Adkins will give a free presentation called “The Same River Twice: Florida’s 1968 Constitution from Mid-Century Draft to 2018 Revision” at 7:00 pm in the Library of Florida History, 435 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa.
“We are very grateful to the thousands of Floridians who have participated in the CRC process either by attending our public hearings or submitting their own proposed changes to the Florida Constitution,” commission chairman Carlos Beruff said on Monday. “As we review the more than 1,400 public proposals and thousands of comments and emails we have received, it is apparent that Floridians share many similar interests and ideas. In addition to directly sponsoring public proposals, many Commissioners are creating their own proposals inspired by public input and combine similar ideas into one proposal to ensure Floridians’ voices are heard. We encourage all interested Floridians who have not yet submitted their proposed changes to the Florida Constitution to send them in by the October 6 deadline.”
Mary E. Adkins is author of the book “Making Modern Florida: How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New State Constitution”
“Florida’s current constitution was drafted by 36 men and one woman, tweaked by the legislature, and adopted by the public in 1968,” says Adkins. “It reflected a repudiation of the so-called Pork Chop Gang, the cabal of rural Florida legislators that ran the legislature according to their self-proclaimed ‘Southern values.’ Florida had shot into the world’s limelight with the moon race and the coming of Disney World, but its obsolete 1885 Constitution hamstrung its government.”
In the late 1960s, a process was developed where Floridians would periodically be able to have direct input into how the state constitution should be updated.
“The new Constitution was responsive to the people,” Adkins says. “Never again would Florida’s citizens be beholden to the legislature for constitutional reform. The constitution provided for citizens’ initiatives and contained a provision unique in America: a periodic automatic Constitution Revision Commission.”
Florida’s current state constitution has been in place for 50 years. The new Constitution Revision Commission is accepting public suggestions for changes to the document through this week.
Adkins’s presentation Friday evening will review the making of the 1968 Florida Constitution, its 50 year history, and the issues likely to be part of the current major revision.
A variety of proposed changes to the constitution have already been submitted for consideration.
One proposal states that no candidates for governor and lieutenant governor should reside in the same county or legislative district. The proposal also includes a provision that if the candidate for governor is male, then the candidate for lieutenant governor should be female, and that “when possible,” the candidates should be of different ethnic origin.
Another proposal states that the Florida senate shall consist of 60 members from 30 senatorial districts, and that each district shall elect one male and one female representative. There is currently no rule regarding the gender of state senators.
A proposed addition to the section of the constitution dealing with the due process of law states that “No person previously found competent to stand trial shall be civilly committed upon release from incarceration when there has been no finding that such a person is no longer competent and is a danger to him or herself or others. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the civil commitment of individuals who are genuinely incompetent and a danger to themselves or others nor shall anything in this section be construed to prevent the State from mandating lengthy prison sentences for defendants convicted of dangerous felonies.”
A list of 26 “official” symbols for the state of Florida are proposed for the new version of the constitution, including the adoption of the Ghost Orchid as state flower, the Zebra Longwing Butterfly as state insect, Key Lime Pie as state desert, and gold coins from Spanish shipwrecks as state artifact.
Public proposals suggested through Friday may be sponsored by members of the CRC at their meeting on October 17.