Floridians defended direct democracy and voted NO on Amendment 2!
Amendment 2 on the November 8, 2022 General Election ballot would have abolished the Constitution Revision Commission, taking away a means for Floridians to amend their constitution. The measure failed to reach the 60% threshold required to pass.
When Florida’s Constitution was rewritten in 1968, it contained a provision unique among the states to increase public participation in governance: the creation of a commission that would meet every 20 years and provide recommended changes to the state constitution for Florida voters to decide on.
Changes to the Florida constitution that have arisen directly or indirectly through the CRC process include the right to privacy, accessible polling places, safe and high-quality public schools, public campaign financing, ethics reform, and a ban of off-shore drilling.
Common Cause believes that the CRC requires reform, but that abolishing it altogether would have removed a vehicle for the people of Florida to input into state governance and invested more power in the legislature. That’s why we recommended voting no on Amendment 2. This vote was even more important in light of recent legislative measures that have made the citizen initiative process more difficult.
What is the CRC?
Article XI of the Florida Constitution provides for the following ways to propose amendments and revisions to the constitution (which must then be approved by voters in a general election):
- Joint resolution agreed to by three-fifths of the members of each house of the legislature
- Constitution revision commission (every 20 years – next meeting 2037)
- Citizens’ initiative petition
- Taxation and budget reform commission (every 20 years – next meeting 2027)
- Constitutional convention to consider revision of the entire constitution
The CRC is a 37-member commission that convenes every 20 years, receives proposals from the public and hears about issues that matter to Floridians across the state, and proposes changes to the Florida Constitution. CRC members are appointed by the governor (15 members), legislative leaders (18), and the Florida Supreme court (3). The attorney general also serves on the CRC. CRC proposals are put directly on the ballot for public vote and pass if 60% of voters approve.
The CRC was established in 1968 after a long period during which modernizing the Florida Constitution had been extremely difficult. The CRC has convened three times, in 1977-78, 1997-98 and 2017-18. The next CRC is scheduled to convene in 2037.
The proposals of the 1977-78 CRC did not pass initially, but several were passed by Florida voters in later years. Eight of the nine proposals of the 1997-98 CRC were passed by voters. The 2017-18 CRC placed 8 measures on the ballot (covering 20 different issues), 7 of which passed (all except one that was blocked by the courts).
Background on Amendment 2
This effort to abolish the CRC came from the Florida legislature. The proposal passed the State Senate 27-12 (all Republicans and 3 Democrats in favor, 13 Democrats opposed) and the State House 86-28 (75 Republicans and 11 Democrats in favor, 28 Democrats opposed, 3 Republicans and 11 Democrats didn’t vote).
This proposal came about, in large part, from dissatisfaction with the 2017-18 CRC, which engaged in “bundling” (combining unrelated issues together into a single ballot measure). Bundling produces confusion and means that voters have to vote yes or no on all the issues in the measure, even if they agree with one and disagree with another. The 2017-18 CRC was also seen by many as being particularly partisan, in part due to the appointment of partisan members and registered lobbyists.
Common Cause Position:
Despite the issues of the 2017-18 commission, the CRC provides an important pathway for the people of Florida to amend their constitution. Recent legislative measures have made the citizen initiative process to amend the constitution more difficult and more expensive. Abolishing the CRC would further diminish direct democracy and citizen voice in state governance. In addition, abolishing the CRC would invest more power in the legislature, which has a track record of engaging in measures (including voting restrictions and gerrymandering) that diminish the voices of Florida’s citizens.
The CRC should be reformed, but it should not be abolished. Reforms to address the issues from the 2017-18 CRC could include, for example, requiring single-issue ballot measures and improving the appointment process to ensure the commission is bipartisan and to have more balanced influence from the three branches of government (governor, legislature and supreme court).
Additional Information Resources
- Final Report, 9 May 2018
- Watch recorded proceedings on The Florida Channel
- History of the CRC
- LeRoy Collins Institute: Constitution Revision Commission