groups in CRC letterOctober 17, 2017

DELIVERED VIA EMAIL Re: Consideration of public proposals

Dear Chairman Beruff and Members of the CRC:

The 2017-18 Florida Constitution Revision Commission today issued a stunning rejection of
the thousands of Floridians who invested considerable time and effort to share their ideas
and draft proposals for improving their constitution. When the gavel dropped on the second
and final hearing of publicly-filed proposals, only 6 of more than 2,000 public proposals
moved forward for thoughtful study and consideration.

When the CRC launched its “public listening tour” last spring without first establishing any
rules or procedures, we questioned whether public input would be meaningfully
considered, or if the public hearings were just for show. CRC press releases have repeatedly
hailed the numbers of citizens who invested their time and energy to attend those public
hearings and submit proposals. But the metrics that matter are the results of all that
participation. Did the CRC actually want to hear what people thought, or was it all about
appearances?

Because the CRC only comes along once every 20 years, there are benchmarks of previous
performance to help answer that question. Consider the metrics of the very last CRC held in
1997-98 as it wrapped up its second and final hearing to consider public proposals. Of a
total of 696 publicly-filed proposals, all were read before the full CRC and 128 (18.4%)
achieved the threshold of 10 votes needed to move forward for further consideration.
Individual CRC members moved for consideration of another 69 public proposals that fell
short of the 10 votes required to move forward. That was a stark contrast to this
commission’s response to the public. The 6 proposals moving forward amount to less than
.003 percent of those filed, and no other proposals even received a motion for
consideration.

In addition to the 128 public proposals that moved forward for consideration by the 1997-
1998 CRC, the commission sorted public proposals by subject matter and proceeded to
consider a total of 30 “general concepts” raised by the public. This year’s CRC did not even
bother to group proposals by subject – an exercise that would have revealed recurring
themes. We recognize that the advent of online filings significantly increased the workload,
but technological advances would have made it easier for staff to group proposals into
general categories for further consideration. Presenting commissioners with subject
matters that were repeatedly addressed by members of the public could have led them to
look more deeply into a variety of issues and help them to focus on the areas of greatest
public concern. Such focus is sorely lacking this time around. It seems to be up to individual
commissioners to attempt to bundle concepts into their own proposals.

The Citizens of Florida were told their voices would be heard and would shape this process.
Actions speak louder than words, and this commission’s actions are brazenly dismissive of
the concerns and suggestions of Floridians.

 

The letter was signed by the groups represented by the logos at the top of this page.

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