I am encouraging you to vote against the majority of the constitutional amendments on the November ballot. The Penny for Pasco sales tax extension, which is for residents in Pasco County, is the exception.
There is a unique provision within the Florida Constitution that allows for the formation of a Constitution Revision Commission. This commission is established every 20 years to examine the constitution to determine its viability for the future.
This committee is made up of 37 members. I was honored and privileged to be a part of the 1990 commission. The governor, speaker of the House and president of the Senate nominate 36 citizens. The chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court also is a member. This commission is a two-year process.
The 1990 commission met in at least 12 cities throughout the state to gain input from citizens. In addition to those meetings, the commission met periodically, at least once a month and sometimes twice a month, in Tallahassee to review and establish committees for the various items of interest we had gleaned from the public hearings. Those committees selected a scribe who put ink to paper to adequately create the proposed change that would be put forth upon its completion.
The Florida Constitution is a living document and should be changed periodically, but only with citizen participation and after a thorough discussion of issues, not arbitrarily by a few special interests. The constitution is not a Christmas tree of wants and desires — it is a sacred document.
The participants of that commission worked diligently to submit comprehensive changes to the constitution. These were not frivolous changes; they were substantive. They represented changes in society that needed to be addressed.
The commission placed on the ballot nine proposed amendments — eight of which were approved by the majority of the citizens. This was the first time any had been approved. In my opinion this was the result of receiving input from the public and responding in a responsible manner. The media kept the citizens informed.
The proposed amendments on the November ballot have not had hearings in the public venue and are not worthy of your vote. The Penny for Pasco is a local issue and should be supported so residents, our children and grandchildren may continue to have the green space for their life experience.
I strongly urge you to vote no on all other amendments.