Constitution Review Commission Still Working On Its Rules

May 17, 2017

On Wednesday, the Constitution Revision Commission met to work on  passing its first measure: rules to govern how it will operate over the next year.

While the CRC has been touring the state on what it calls a listening session, it hasn’t  conducted any other official business since the first gathering of its 37 members in March. And the group gathered Wednesday in Tampa didn’t quite get to check off anything new.

At the first meeting on March 21, the commission was slated to vote on draft rules that outlined how the commission will operate, including how it will decide which of the hundreds of proposals to consider, how many votes will be needed to make any decision and what constitutes a meeting.

That vote was pulled after concerns were raised about the rules by groups like the First Amendment Foundation and the League of Women Voters, which believed the proposals would not allow open access to the committee’s proceedings.

A subset of the commission was appointed to a rules working group to gather suggested changes to those draft rules.

“They will require debate and full adoption [by the CRC],” explained Tim Cerio, chair of the working group at the beginning of the meeting. “We appreciate any feedback you can provide us, but that’s why we’re here today. We are here today because of the comments we’ve heard on the road.”

After a short comment period, the group felt its way through the first bit of the rules, eliminating a provision that would have allowed for commissioners to phone into meetings and providing for notice to the CRC chairman if commission members miss three or more meetings.

However, the group did not address one of the biggest concerns of the First Amendment Foundation, which is whether  two commissioners can meet in private about CRC business. The Florida Legislature is the only governmental body in Florida that allows that practice.

After a five-hour meeting, the working group adjourned and will ask the CRC chairman to set another meeting date.

The plan is to have the full commission meet to vote on the rules in early June.