The Florida Constitution Revision Commission, a 37 member appointed board that meets every 20 years for the purpose of reviewing and proposing changes to the state constitution held their first public meeting with it’s new members on Wednesday evening at UCF and the reception from the over capacity crowd was mostly frustration with the way their first outing was organized.
The meeting began with tensions high with the room quickly reaching it’s maximum capacity leaving many on the outside looking in. A pair of UCF Police Officers blocked the entrance to the venue to prevent anymore attendees from entering the meeting. An overflow room was set up and visitors on the outside were eventually allowed to enter.
There wasn’t much more positive sentiment to be found inside of the meeting with the main concerns of the three and a half hour listening session revolving over how suddenly the meetings were arrange preventing many interested citizens from attending and the availability of information regarding the commission’s business online.
Many of the attendees were from the League of Women Voters and allied organizations including Planned Parenthood, Equality Florida and others, who earlier that day held a press conference in Tallahassee voicing concerns how the CRC was operating.
“We are concerned about your proposed rules that allows two commission members to discuss business in private.” said Ann Hellmuth from the Orange County League of Women Voters citing Sunshine Law concerns “Therefore we believe this should be corrected to give everybody confidence in the openess and transparency of this CRC”
CRC Chair Carlos Beruff assured attendees that much of the information about the CRC including video of the meetings would be made available online and through social media.
When the discussion turned to the issues many of the suggestions included restoration of voter rights for felons, water quality, and a measure that would require any running for President in the state to disclose their tax returns. A jab from left leaning attendees at President Donald Trump.
A major matter involving local government officials included the topic of home rule. With several pieces of legislation currently being considered by the state legislature that would take away powers from local government this was a concern from municipal leaders in attendance.
“Ask yourselves ‘what would your Mayor say?” said Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn “What would your local governments says?”
Other local leaders on hand included Belle Isle Mayor Lydia Pisano, Orange County Democratic Party Chair Wes Hodge, Orange County Democratic State Committee Members Doug Head and Lorraine Tuliano and Orange County Republican State Committeewoman Kathy Gibson.
The CRC will continue holding meetings and workshops around the state with at least one more gathering in Orlando that will be scheduled for the fall.