Gainesville Sun, February 21, 2017
By Christopher Emmanuel
In the coming weeks, Florida will begin an unusual and unique process of revising the constitution through the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The CRC has the ability to redraft, redraw and reconfigure our state’s constitution, and present its recommendations to the citizens directly on the ballot.
While there is no legislative override and no executive veto, any proposal must receive 60 percent of the vote to be approved and placed on the constitution. The CRC meets every 20 years, so there are very few places for commissioners to look for recommendations on changes or even the types of problems that they should attempt to solve.
On a recent weekend, students from across the state came to Gainesville and provided an example.
Recognizing the incredible opportunity that this important commission has, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida created a full weekend of programming for the best and brightest college students from around the state to study, debate and ultimately propose ideas for consideration. Their proposals were graded not only on merit but their ability to garner a super-majority of the vote.
The participants had many great ideas, but the most refreshing part of their work product was their deliberate humility. The students were rightly focused on the correct purpose of the CRC — to make well-reasoned structural changes to the system of government rather than legislate from the ballot.
Their proposals included restructuring the Cabinet, changing the format of primary elections and raising the retirement age of judges. They did not attempt to solve the hot political topics of the day. Instead, they debated how to make our state run a little smoother and perhaps a little smarter. Do not be surprised if their proposals make it through the CRC and on to your ballot.
TJ Pyche and the other students of the center deserve special recognition for their tireless work to put on such an impressive weekend. So many complain about politics, focusing their energy on Facebook posts or public cynicism. It’s refreshing to know that our state’s future leaders are focused on solutions for all Floridians and recognize that a good place to start is the CRC.
Christopher Emmanuel is the director of infrastructure and governance policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
To learn more about the CRC, please visit www.FloridaChamber.com/CRC.