From a ban on offshore oil drilling to new ethics standards for public officials, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will consider a dozen ballot proposals for the November general election.
The commission’s Style and Drafting Committee on Thursday finalized the list, which includes 12 ballot proposals that incorporate 24 potential changes to the Florida Constitution. All of the proposals were initially endorsed by the commission.
The full commission, which could adjust the proposals, will take up the measures on April 16. It will require 22 votes from the 37-member commission to place proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Commissioner Brecht Heuchan, chairman of the Style and Drafting Committee, said the recommended ballot package represents “a good balance” of the competing ideas.
“You’re just wrangling a lot of different policies, positions, rules and personalities,” Heuchan said. “Any time you do that, it’s challenging to say the least. I am hopeful the full commission recognizes the work that was done in paying attention to the things that they had said.”
One balancing act for the committee was deciding how many of the original two-dozen proposals should remain as individual ballot items and how many should be grouped together.
The committee ended up recommending six ballot proposals that bundled two or more measures, including a proposal (PCP 2004) that combines a ban on oil and gas drilling in state waters with a ban on vaping in the workplace.
The committee also recommended six ballot measures that reflect single proposals, including a ban on greyhound racing (PCP 6012) and an ethics measure (PCP 6007) that would prohibit former public officials from lobbying their governmental agencies for six years after leaving office.
County government advocates on Thursday objected to one of the bundled ballot proposals (PCP 6005), which would require charter counties to have elected sheriffs and other constitutional officers. It is combined with measures that would create a state Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism and revamp authority for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The proposal would also lead to the Legislature beginning sessions in January in even-numbered years.
Jess McCarty, a lobbyist for Miami-Dade County, said charter counties should retain the right to let their voters decide whether to eliminate the election of constitutional officers. Miami-Dade voters have eliminated elections for the sheriff, tax collector and supervisor of elections.
McCarty said the proposed constitutional change may represent “the most significant change to local home rule and self-determination since the 1968 Constitution.” While opposing the measure, McCarty said voters should decide the issue as a singular ballot proposal and not have it grouped with the other measures.
“You would have to vote against counterterrorism and against veterans to vote against overruling your local voter decision-making,” McCarty said.
The measures put on the November ballot by the commission would join five proposed constitutional amendments already on the ballot. That will likely be part of the debate as the full commission takes up the recommended ballot package later this month.
Heuchan said he has heard from commissioners who are open to more ballot proposals, while others believe the commission should limit the number.
“That’s a subjective discussion. Is 17 too many? I can’t say that. I don’t know that,” Heuchan said. “I think some would probably say, yes that’s too many. There are others who are going to say, no it’s not.”