The Constitution Revision Commission is one of only five ways that the Florida Constitution can be amended, and it only occurs once every twenty years. This year, the third installment of the CRC, consisting of a highly selective group of Floridians, has gotten together to travel across the state, talking to the public, conducting research, and proposing solutions and possible constitutional amendments for issues they encountered around Florida.
After the Commission has gathered public input, they will recommend proposals for constitutional amendments for the 2018 ballot and, come November, Florida constituents will have the opportunity to vote for which proposals they would like to see added to the constitution.
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, former mayor and commissioner of Sewall’s Point, Florida, is currently serving on the CRC and views her role as a commissioner as being “a voice for the people of Florida”.
She believes that the CRC is incredibly important for the state of Florida, especially seeing as how we are the only state with this sort of opportunity, and she sees the public as playing the biggest role in the outcome of the CRC. Thurlow-Lippisch encourages Floridians to come out and speak at the CRC public hearings that will be occuring in the next few weeks, and while she recognizes the time and effort it may take to speak at the hearings, she wants the public to know that if you come to a hearing “your voice is heard and the more voices the better.”
When asked about turnout at this year’s CRC, Thurlow-Lippisch said that the amount of people involved has been great, and has been much higher than during the two previous CRCs, but she still believes there is a lot of work to be done in regards to increasing awareness about the CRC. She sees one of her important roles as a commissioner as spreading awareness and “trying to get out to as many people of as many backgrounds” to tell them about the CRC.
One way that Floridians have been able to be involved with the CRC was through the Future of Florida summit, where college students from around the state got together to propose amendments that would be submitted to the Commission. Ultimately, three amendments from the Summit were chosen for submission, including amendments to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75, to eliminate the write-in loophole in elections, and to change elected constitutional officer positions in non-charter counties to nonpartisan.
The current Vice-Chair of the Future of Florida Summit, Lindsey Cazessus, believes that participation in and awareness of the CRC is incredibly important because it gives citizens of Florida the opportunity to have “direct involvement in changing the constitution”, in a way that isn’t available to other states. She believes that citizens, particularly young people, who are involved with and aware of the CRC have a unique opportunity to have a say in what their state will look like, and that the CRC gives citizens the opportunity to “write the future for themselves”.
The CRC is currently examining many other proposals, including ones surrounding Florida privacy rights and religious freedom.
The Commission provides an outlet for Floridians to voice their support and concern over various policies, and stay active and engaged in the process of amending the Florida Constitution. You can stay up to date on what proposals and amendments the CRC is considering, as well as how to get into contact with them, at their website, https://www.flcrc.gov/.