Florida Constitutional Amendments: The Stacked Deck

By R. Lombardi

You and your partner with another couple are going clubbing.  Three of you want to go to “Love-It” and your partner wants only to go to “F-It”.  Knowing he is out-voted, he proposes, either we go to both, or I won’t join. The spoiler.  By forcing the choice that none of the others want, an All or Nothing demand is enforced against the majority.  Welcome to Florida’s Constitution Revision Committee, the CRC.

This committee puts constitutional amendments on the ballot and purports/claims Florida as “the only state in the nation that offers this unique process with high-level input from citizens.”  The question is “high level of input.” While it is true they roam the state for citizen and community input, you would need to expend considerable time understanding how they get proposals to the ballot.  You would have to read the minutes of all their meetings to understand how they “culled” and bundled citizens’ wishes to see how their final recommendations are reached and approved by 50 % of the committee.

This year’s CRC has proposed 8 Amendments, some bundled, some not.  One bundling is to prohibit off-shore drilling AND prohibit vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces.  You must vote yes for BOTH prohibitions or no for NEITHER. What one has to do with the other is beyond me.  Additionally, I find such Amendments to a Constitution perplexing. Such issues should be handled by the legislative process, not by something so fundamental like a Constitutional Amendment.  Welcome to Florida! Another bundling concerns the Rights of Crime Victims AND to increase the age a judge may serve. Again you vote for BOTH or NEITHER, leaving one to wonder what one has to do with the other.

The Power of the CRC to determine what is relevant from citizen’s input and bundling of non-related issues is a manipulation of the public will.  The only remedy at this moment is public referendums. Although I first thought this was the main problem, my research into the CRC revealed a more serious concern.

The CRC is composed of the Attorney General, 15 Governor, 9 Senate, 9 House of Representatives and 3 Chief Justice Appointees.  It meets every 20 years to keep the Constitution in step with the times. The Governor chooses the Chairman. This gives the Governor 15 of 37 votes in the CRC.  He only would need to influence 4 of 22 others for a majority vote; which, is easily achieved. The question is WHY does the Executive have so much power in a Legislative process?  Bundling voter input is bad enough; but, Executive control over a Legislative process is just out-right “stacking the deck” for the Governor. In essence, the Governor gets to put Constitutional Amendments on the ballot and the CRC gets to “spoil” voter wishes.  The Governor forces you to go to the F-U Club and the CRC forces the all or nothing demand to go to the F-It club.

It is acceptable that the Executive have input to the Legislative process; but, NOT control.  Any executive either knows this or will learn it. Those in power do not voluntarily give it up.  So, the one way citizens can take back their Constitutional Amendment power from the Governor in Florida is a referendum of the nature: The Governor may not appoint any voting member of the CRC; but, may appoint a consultant.  To handle the bundling problem I suggest an Amendment that the CRC may NOT bundle proposed Amendments. Each issue should demand a single Amendment proposal, not an Amendment proposal covering many issues.

Only 6 of the Governor’s 15 Appointees are women, 40%.  Of the 37 members of the CRC, 15 are women, also 40 %. Do not wonder then why Women’s Issues rarely make it to this Constitutional Amendment process called the CRC.  If you want Women’s Rights IN the Constitution, let the CRC appoint its’ own Chairman, get the Governor OUT of the process, and forbid bundling of issues.

What do you think?

Women’s Day of Action 2018 a Great Success!

Thanks to all our sponsors, our speakers, our entertainers, our volunteers, our table sponsors, and our participants for a great turnout and an energizing day of action in Jacksonville on January 21, 2018! Based on the number of materials passed out by our table sponsors, we estimate the crowd was about 2,000 over the four-hour  Rally.  Peaceful, positive, and inspiring, the event was a celebration of all the hard work we’ve done in the past year, as well as all the work that is yet to be done!  The event was covered by the Times-Union, two local TV stations, WJCT, and others. Check out the media links here.

Below are just a few of our favorite pictures.

Hear Our Voices

Women’s March Jacksonville takes seriously its mission to amplify the voices of women, children, and other marginalized communities negatively affected by systematic oppression in our community.

Below are the latest articles in the news:

Monday Lead Letter: Fake Reform Will Severely Impact Women
December 18, 2018

Women’s March Florida Plans Statewide Events in January
November 20, 2017

Jacksonville Area Women’s Groups Join Together to Push Reproductive Healthcare Access
October 16, 2017

Thursday Lead Letter: Time for a Timeout on Efforts to Repeal Obamacare
July 19, 2017

Innocents Slain in Syrian Conflict Remembered at Jacksonville Vigil
April 13, 2017

Bridging the Gender Gap: Women in Jacksonville Continue the Movement
February 14, 2017

Women’s March Jacksonville March Documented in Photographs
January 21, 2017

Northeast Florida Women Plan to Send Message to Trump with Marches in Washington, Jacksonville
January 18, 2017

Fake Reform Will Hurt U. S. Women

The latest tax bill approved by the Republican-controlled government makes a bad situation even worse for women and children.

The Centers for Disease Control (2016) indicates pregnancy is a medical condition that can cause serious health problems such as pre-eclampsia, diabetes, and depression in women.

ProPublica reports that the United States has the “worst rate of maternal death in the developed world.”

With screening, breast cancer deaths are among the most preventable. Yet a report in a cancer journal concluded that because uninsured and women with Medicaid have greater odds for a later-stage diagnosis, “insurance status at diagnosis and sociodemographic factors are associated with breast cancer mortality.”

It is hard to imagine how pregnancy prevention and cancer screenings could be treated as unnecessary luxuries, but it could happen because of the GOP government’s actions this year.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price signed CMS-9940-IFC – Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, declaring organizations with moral objections to birth control do not have to include it in their insurance plans.

President Donald Trump harmed women and the working poor this year when he signed executive orders expanding association health plans without requiring them to cover essential health benefits, and cutting off the low-income subsidies to marketplace providers.

And now, under Trump’s tax “reform,” Congress seeks to eliminate the personal mandate to purchase insurance on Obamacare exchanges, weakening the ability to offer affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2021, our poorest citizens will be paying more taxes under the plan than they are now.

Although poor women will now have a tougher time accessing birth control, Congress has also allowed the sunset of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers poor children.

Measures that potentially harm half our population as well as poor children are unacceptable. Women’s March of Jacksonville maintains that the sunset of CHIP, efforts to slash Medicaid, executive orders not to pay ACA subsidies and the elimination of the ACA personal mandate are an attack on the health and wellbeing of all women and children.

Urge your elected officials to oppose the alleged Trump tax “reforms” and work on health care legislation that moves us closer to the goal of keeping essential healthcare affordable for all.

Amy Cherie Copeland,

Captain, Healthcare and Reproductive Rights Action Committee,

Women’s March Florida