Voters across Florida would be asked to decide if Miami-Dade County should have an elected sheriff. Greyhound racing would be banned statewide. And the lieutenant governor would have to head a state agency.
Those are just some of the 37 proposals pending before the Constitution Revision Commission and among those that have gotten little attention as the panel comes to South Florida to seek public input at a six-hour hearing in Broward on Tuesday.
The commission is the powerful citizen board that is charged with putting proposals directly on the November general election ballot once every 20 years. It must decide by May 10 which of the proposals to include on the ballot and has scheduled a statewide “Road to the Ballot” public hearing tour. The first hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6 at Nova Southeastern University’s Rick Case Arena from 1 to 7 p.m.
Each of the proposals has made it through the first round of votes in committees and must receive approval by the full commission.
Many of the proposals are actions the Legislature could take itself — such as an amendment to require that civics be taught in schools, another to require a candidate for the Legislature to live in the district upon qualifying for office, and another to require the Legislature to properly fund clerks of court — after failing to provide enough money for them for years.
Other proposals attempt to use the state Constitution to referee perennial legislative turf battles. Proposal 54, for example, eliminates the Certificate of Need requirements needed to get a license to operate hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, or intermediate care facilities.
One proposal would affect only eight counties, and Miami-Dade County most of all. Under Proposal 13, charter counties would be banned from eliminating any elected positions.
The measure, by Martin County Clerk of Court Carolyn Timmann, a member of the commission, is the same proposal that former Sen. Frank Artiles pursued in the last several sessions to have the whole state vote on whether Miami-Dade County should have an elected sheriff, supervisor of elections and tax collector.
Under the proposal, counties that have transferred some duties from their elected officials would be affected, but the measure has the greatest impact on Miami-Dade — where it is opposed by county commissioners. The others are Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Orange, Osceola, and Volusia.
“It doesn’t directly effect 59 of the 67 counties that would be voting on it,’’ said Jess McCarty, assistant county attorney, at the meeting of the commission’s Local Government Committee in November.
The county has a directly elected strong mayor and, not unlike big cities with an appointed police chief, appoints its sheriff, he said. The county should have the ability to change its own structure of government, not other parts of the state, McCarty said.
He noted that in 2008 the county shifted from appointed to elected property appraiser but continues to appoint its sheriff, supervisor of elections and tax collector.
“It’s safe to say there will be people who vote on this who have never been to Miami-Dade County,’’ McCarty said, warning that it will lead to more government by having additional constitutional officers, each with a different bureaucracy.
But Timmann, whose county is not a charter county, denied the measure was targeted at Miami-Dade.
“The residents of each county should have the opportunity to clearly vote on this proposal,’’ she said. “We believe that elected officials are the most responsive to the people.”
She accused Miami-Dade officials of attempting to silence supporters of the proposal and denied the idea was directed at any one county but is “a statewide issue about principles of government.”
Hank Coxe, chairman of the commission’s Ethics and Elections Committee who lives in Duval, one of the counties affected by the proposal, was the only vote against the measure when it came before his committee in December.
“It appears to address a problem that the affected people aren’t claiming is a problem in their areas,’’ he said.
Also opposing the measure were officials from Broward County, which does not have an elected tax collector. They told the commission the amendment could force the clerk of court to be the custodian of funds for the county — as clerks do in rural counties.
The full commission will next decide whether to include it on the November ballot.
Proposed ballot questions
Here are some other more controversial proposals pending a final vote by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission:
Discrimination: Proposal 3 — Repeals the Florida Alien Land Law, a provision that was never enacted or enforced. The Alien Land Law was added to the state Constitution in 1926 to allow the Legislature to prevent people barred from citizenship — at the time, Asian immigrants — from owning land. A similar proposal was on the 2008 general election ballot as Amendment 1, but received only 47.9 percent of votes. Proponents blamed confusion over the ballot summary and attitudes about illegal immigration for the amendment’s defeat.
School vouchers: Proposal 4 — Repeals the “No Aid Provision” or “Blaine Amendment” from the Florida Constitution. Proponents say it is necessary to remove the prohibition on the direct or indirect use of state revenue for aid to a church, sect, religious denomination, or sectarian institution, thereby interfering with sending vouchers to private schools. Opponents say Florida courts have interpreted Florida’s No Aid provision as already prohibiting the state from using its funds to advance religion, but there is no prohibition on the use of state funds for the delivery of “non-religious social services” to religiously affiliated entities.
Write-in loophole in primaries: Proposal 11 — Florida’s primaries would no longer be closed by a write-in candidate under this proposal, which would open primaries to all voters if all the candidates in the primary are from the same party and have no general election opponent from another party.
E-Verify Proposal 29 — Requires all employers to verify the citizenship of new employees using the E-Verify system, beginning on July 1, 2020, or lose their license to do business in Florida. Opponents say the system is error-prone and would result in an enormous burden on authorized workers and businesses.
Legislating to lobbying revolving door: Proposal 39 — Establishes a new ethics rule to ban legislators, agency heads and locally elected officials — from school board to city and county commissions to judges — from returning to lobby the Legislature for six years after they leave office. It also bans them from serving as a lobbyist before other elected bodies while they are in office; attempts to create new restrictions on anyone who attempts to use their office to benefit themselves, relatives or spouses. Would take effect in 2020.
School boards Proposal 43 — Limits school board membership to two four-year terms. School superintendents oppose this measure.
College tuition: Proposal 44 — Creates a new threshold for raising tuition and fees at state universities by requiring approval from at least nine members of the university board of trustees and at least twelve members of the Board of Governors.
School competition: Proposal 45 — Allows the Florida Legislature to create and authorize alternative education options to compete with existing public schools.
Charter schools: Proposal 71 — Allows the Florida Legislature to create individual charter school districts to compete with existing public schools.
Taxes and fees: Proposal 72 — Prohibits the Florida Legislature from passing a law to impose a new state tax or fee or to raise a state tax or fee unless it is passed by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature.
Victims’ rights: Proposal 96 — Expands victims’ rights provisions in Florida’s Constitution by attempting to make the rights of the victim equal to those of the accused by adopting provisions known in other states as “Marsy’s Law,” named after a California woman killed after being stalked by her boyfriend. Rights that would be addressed include being notified of major developments in the criminal case, restitution, having a voice in court proceedings, plea bargains or parole hearings. Opponents such as the ACLU say the proposal is too broad and would have the unintended consequence of diluting due process and leading to wrongful convictions.
Constitutional amendments: Proposal 97 — Raises the bar for passage of future constitutional amendments to require approval by 60 percent of those voting in the election, not 60 percent of the voters voting on the measure.