Florida

Think you know how Florida can fix its problems? Ideas accepted.

Chairman Carlos Beruff, center, is flanked by Commissioner Fred Karlinsky and Attorney General Pam Bondi as members of the Constitutional Revision Commission listen to residents during a town hall meeting at Florida International University in Miami, April 6, 2017. The commission will give the public until Oct. 6 to submit suggestions.
Chairman Carlos Beruff, center, is flanked by Commissioner Fred Karlinsky and Attorney General Pam Bondi as members of the Constitutional Revision Commission listen to residents during a town hall meeting at Florida International University in Miami, April 6, 2017. The commission will give the public until Oct. 6 to submit suggestions. pportal@miamiherald.com

If you have any ideas about the future of Florida after the storm, you now have until Oct. 6 to prepare your pitch to the Constitution Revision Commission.

The powerful panel meets every 20 years and has the authority to put constitutional amendments directly on the November 2018 ballot. On Monday, its rules committee tentatively extended the deadline for Floridians to submit ideas. The previous deadline of Sept. 22 was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

After months of public hearings around the state, the commission has already received more than 1,400 proposals from the public through its public web site, FLCRC.gov, said Tim Cerio, chair of CRC’s Rules and Administration Committee.

“How we handle these proposals is going to be critically important,” he said at a meeting of the committee. Some ideas may be duplicates, others may be consolidated, and some may emerge as proposals authored by one of the 37 commissioners on the panel.

“Nevertheless, we have a duty to treat each one of these proposals and give its due consideration,” he said.

The public can make a proposal by going to FLCRC.gov, creating an account and submitting a proposal. The commission will then review all public submissions beginning at the next full commission meeting on Oct. 2. The public will have four more days to present ideas. Additional proposals that come in after Oct. 2, can be offered up at a subsequent meeting of the commission, Cerio said. “Some will actually get two bites at the apple.”

In order for the commission to consider the proposal, it must be nominated by a commissioner and receive 10 votes.

The commission is dominated by Republicans and controlled by Gov. Rick Scott. The governor appointed 14 of the members and its chair, Carlos Beruff. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron each appointed 9 members and Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga appointed 3 members.

There have been only seven proposals submitted by commissioners to date, five by Miami lawyer Roberto Martinez, one by Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and one by former Fort Lauderdale state Sen. Chris Smith.

Martinez and Smith both submitted proposals allowing felons who have completed their sentences to have their civil rights automatically restored. Martinez also proposes removing the prohibition that state revenues cannot be used for private purposes, a provision known as the Blaine amendment that has served as an obstacle to private school vouchers in Florida.

Martinez also wants to update the Constitution by removing the prohibition against property ownership by non-citizens, another raising the requirements to serve on the judiciary and revising how administrative law rulings are interpreted. Nocco proposes expanding victims rights.

If a proposal is not nominated by a commission member, it could be proposed by commissioners by Oct. 31.

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