the flog

Constitutional Revision Commission “bundling” smacks of lazy, sloppy, political manipulation

Shame on the CRC

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Historically, Florida's Constitutional Revision Commission has been well regarded as an honorable, non-partisan, and diligent institution tasked with analyzing the state's constitution, and proposing changes to the voters.

This year, however, their hard work is at risk of being undermined by commissioners who are seeking to "bundle" distinct, and sometimes, conflicting, ballot items into single proposals.

For example, commissioners are seeking to bundle a proposal that, if enacted, would demand three separate changes related to our public schools: the loss of local control of charter schools, enshrinement of civics education into the constitution, and term limits for school board members.

Many proposals going into these bundles could be easily handled by the legislature. In fact, civics education is already alive and thriving thanks to former Florida House member Charles McBurney from Jacksonville.  He led the passage of the "Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Education Act" in 2010, creating a civics curriculum for middle-schoolers. As a result, Florida's middle school civics-literacy rate has nearly tripled the national average-all without amending the state constitution.

The "civics education" ballot item has been bundled with murkier, more controversial items in order to gain more votes for the latter. Shame on the CRC members for thinking we don't know better.

Voters who want part, but not all, of a bundled proposal would have to choose between the following options: (1) Vote "yes" for the whole thing, including the items they might not want; (2) Vote "no" for the whole thing, including the items they might want.

Either way, proposal "bundling" dilutes the power of voters.  And the practice smacks of laziness, sloppiness, and political manipulation on the part of the entire CRC.

Please contact CRC commissioners now, and ask them not to bundle proposed constitutional amendment items.

Instead of having their choices watered down by potentially conflicting bundles of changes, voters should be able to accept or reject each proposal on the merits.

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