Florida to vote in 2022 on abolishing the Florida Constitution Revision Commission

The Florida State Legislature gave final approval to SJR 204 on April 27, 2021. The measure, which will appear on the November 2022 ballot in Florida, would abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission if approved by 60% of voters.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a 37-member commission provided for in the state constitution that convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the Florida Constitution. The CRC refers constitutional amendments directly to the ballot for a public vote. Florida is the only state with a commission that can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot. The CRC convenes every 20 years on the following schedule: 1977, 1997, 2017, 2037, 2057, and so on. Beyond what is required in Section 2 of Article XI of the Florida Constitution, the CRC sets its own rules and procedures.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) of 2017-2018 proposed changes to the state constitution for voters to approve or reject in the November 2018 general election. The CRC received 2,013 proposals from the public and 103 from the commission’s members. The CRC referred eight measures to the 2018 ballot. All of the amendments were approved except for Amendment 8, which was blocked from appearing on the ballot by a court ruling.

Plaintiffs argued that the measure combined three separate and unrelated measures and that the ballot language was misleading. The court ruled that the measure’s ballot language was misleading and the measure was kept off the ballot. Seven of the eight CRC referrals had been targeted in lawsuits with plaintiffs alleging that the amendments combined multiple subjects and/or had misleading or unclear ballot language.

The amendment to abolish the CRC was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 204 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) on December 7, 2020. On March 25, 2021, the state Senate passed the measure in a vote of 27-12. All 24 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the measure. Of the 16 Senate Democrats, 12 voted against, three voted in favor, and one did not vote but voted against the measure after the official vote was tallied. The measure was passed in the House on April 27, 2021, by a vote of 86-11 with six members not voting. Of House Republicans, 75 voted in favor, none voted against, and three did not vote. Of House Democrats, 11 voted in favor, 28 voted against, and 11 did not vote.

In 1980, the legislature referred to the ballot a constitutional amendment to abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 56.5% to 43.5%.

In 1988, the legislature referred a constitutional amendment to create a Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC), which voters approved. Like the Constitution Revision Commission, the TBRC meets every 20 years and has the power to refer constitutional amendments to voters. However, the TBRC only addresses issues related to taxation and the budgetary process.

The legislature also referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would authorize the state legislature to pass laws prohibiting flood resistance improvements to a home from being taken into consideration when determining a property’s assessed value for property tax purposes.

A total of 78 measures appeared on the Florida ballot between 2000 and 2020, including six measures that appeared on the statewide ballot in odd-numbered years. From 2000 to 2020, an average of about seven measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Florida. Between 2000 and 2020, 71.79% (65 of 78) of statewide measures were approved by voters, and 28.21% (22 of 56) were defeated.

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