Who's behind Florida's Constitution Revision Commission?

The Constitution Revision Commission is a group of 37 members who come around every 20 years with a chance to amend Florida law.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Florida's constitution is open to change in a rare citizen-based process this year.

Florida is the only state in the country that has this unique path to legislation.

Average citizens can submit law proposals right now. So far, citizens have submitted more than 1,000 proposals. The Constitution Revision Commission decides which proposals will make the 2018 November ballot.

The Constitution Revision Commission is a group of 37 members who come around every 20 years with a chance to amend Florida law.

10News Reporter Liz Crawford spoke to one of the commissioners on the 2017 commission.

Bill Schifino is one of the 37 members of the commission. He is one of nine commissioners appointed by Senate President Joe Negron. The governor, Speaker of the House, and Chief Justice appoint the rest.

Influence Florida: 20 years later, state's constitution up for change again

Schifino is an attorney in Tampa. He had to apply for the unpaid position. Since March, Schifino and the rest of the commission have been busy hearing what people have to say about the sunshine state's constitution.

When asked what Floridians care about, Schifino said, “A lot of different things, [the] environment's a big one. You hear a lot of people that are passionate about the environment, education, another big one.”

It's politics without the politicians.

“I can certainly tell you, in all the times we've been together, nobody sits around and talks about what's your party affiliation, what's yours?” added Schifino.

The CRC has a long road ahead before putting proposals on the 2018 ballot. First, the commission breaks up into committees. Then they vote on which proposals should be taken to a full commission vote. Finally, whichever proposals make it through end up on your ballot.

CRC proposals must get 60 percent of the vote to pass.

"People should feel empowered to engage in this process," Schifino said. "They really should.”

10News WATCHDOG: The faces of the CRC

While the commission is not made up of politicians, they're made up of people appointed by politicians.

10News Reporter Garin Flowers uncovered who the commissioners are, where they come from, and what side of the aisle they're on.

Their political ideology could have a big impact on issues such as felons rights, guns, education, and healthcare.

The commission is made up of at least 31 Republicans and three Democrats. For three of the commissioners, we were not able to verify their political affiliation.

There are far-right conservatives on the commission, such as: Chairman, Carlos Beruff and John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council. Stemberger is very open about his views on same-sex marriage and abortion.

There’s also your more moderate Republicans on the commission.  

As for the three Democrats, all of them have served in the Florida Senate and are big voices for the party. So, they could have a good amount of influence.

There's also a breakdown of committees focusing on certain issues.

A big one is the Education committee with some powerful names. Darlene Jordan sits on the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida's public colleges. Erika Donald served on the Collier County School Board and was the weekly education correspondent for a radio show. Lastly, Pam Stewart is Florida's education commissioner. She was formerly a teacher and principal.

Other committees include Finance and Taxation, Ethics and Elections and Local Government.

Regardless of party affiliation, the goal of the commission should be to propose a group of bipartisan issues to put before Floridians for the better of the whole state. 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment