You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

breaking news

UPDATE: Woman dead after shooting in suburban Lake Worth neighborhood

Florida Constitution Revision panel starts once-every-20-years job


The once-every-20-years process of updating Florida’s basic law began Monday, as the Constitution Revision Commission held its opening meeting in Tallahassee.

The 37-member panel, appointed almost entirely by Republicans for the first time in history, is expected to submit proposals for amending the state Constitution to voters for the November 2018 election.

RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

The meeting Monday was largely ceremonial. Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga — who combined to appoint all but one of the members — each briefly addressed the commission.

Attorney General Pam Bondi is automatically a member of the panel.

Leaders steered clear of sweeping policy pronouncements. Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County home builder appointed by Scott to chair the commission, promised an open process.

“Every member of the CRC will have the opportunity to be heard and have the chance to fight for the issues they believe are important to this state,” he said. “Most importantly, though, we need to listen to the citizens.”

Beruff also announced the first three public hearings the commission will hold to get input from citizens: March 29 in Orange County, April 6 in Miami-Dade County and a day later in Palm Beach County.

Beruff said he wanted to hold at least two rounds of public hearings — to try to ensure that part-time residents would also have input — and the commission would begin sifting through proposals “after the fall.”

He also said the panel was unlikely to put recommendations on the ballot unless it had a sense that they would be approved by the required 60 percent of voters.

“I think it’s a fool’s errand to propose ideas that we don’t think the public is going to support,” he said. “And we know the threshold for (amending) the Constitution is 60 percent.”

While the first day was tranquil, the commission itself could soon be engulfed in some of the state’s fiercest political fights. Abortion, school choice and how the state’s judiciary operates could all be impacted by the work of the commission.

Already, there were tensions about how the panel would do its work. The First Amendment Foundation voiced a concern about a draft commission rule saying the panel’s record would be “accessible to the public,” rather than “open to the public,” the phrase used in 1998.

Timothy Cerio, a commission member who explained the draft to the commission, said the new version of the rule was meant to be stronger.

“That is certainly something that can be revisited,” said Cerio, a former general counsel to Scott.

Beruff said the rules would be approved at a later meeting of the commission.

There were also questions about the role of Beruff, a close political ally of Scott who has no apparent experience in constitutional law. Scott defended the choice to reporters after speaking to the commission.

“He’s a well-respected businessperson in the Sarasota area, and I know from my experience with him he’s going to work very hard and run a very good commission,” he said.

Former state Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat who is expected to be a liberal voice on the panel, played down any worries that Beruff would have undue influence.

“I’m sure that this commission is not going to allow any one person, be it the chair or otherwise, dictate what is best for the people of the state of Florida,” she said. “Yeah, he has the bully pulpit of being the chairman, but the check and the balance is the 36 others of us.”

News Service Assignment Editor Tom Urban contributed to this report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Who does history favor if Rick Scott challenges Bill Nelson in 2018?
Who does history favor if Rick Scott challenges Bill Nelson in 2018?

Sen. Bill Nelson in his West Palm Beach office last month. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post) Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is one of 10 Democrats up for re-election next year in states that Republican Donald Trump won in 2016. Republicans, on the other hand, have only one Senate incumbent — Dean Heller of...
Where's Jimmy Gomez? Congressman-elect hasn't been sworn in

The only Democrat to win a special congressional election this year still hasn't shown up for work more than three weeks after winning his race — and more than six months since the seat became vacant. Rep.-elect Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., won a special election June 6 to represent California's 34th Congressional District but says he wants to...
A cautious Supreme Court sets modern record for consensus
A cautious Supreme Court sets modern record for consensus

The Supreme Court was short-handed for most of the term that ended Monday, and it responded with caution, setting a modern record for consensus. “Having eight was unusual and awkward,” Justice Samuel Alito told a judicial conference a few days after Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court in April. “That probably required having a lot...
Interior secretary wants more 'front line' help in parks
Interior secretary wants more 'front line' help in parks

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he'll ease the impact of potentially huge National Park Service budget cuts by shifting more resources to the "front line." But it's not clear yet what that actually means. The department earlier this year laid out the potential effects in its justification for the funding reductions in fiscal 2018, which...
McConnell’s reputation as a master tactician takes a hit
McConnell’s reputation as a master tactician takes a hit

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has long enjoyed a reputation as a master tactician. But when it comes to repealing the health care law, he seems to have miscalculated in the first round of play. He assumed that his conservative and moderate colleagues would come together to make good on their seven-year promise to repeal the...
More Stories