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Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission to Hold First Meeting

The 37 members of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), a statutorily-created group who review and recommend changes to the state Constitution will hold its first meeting today, Monday, March 20, at 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee. This CRC, which is required to meet every 20 years, will propose amendments to go before voters in the November 2018 General Election. 

Per Florida law, the Governor appoints 15 members to the CRC, including the chair. The House Speaker and Senate President each appoint nine members. Three members are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Florida supreme court. The only non-appointed member on the CRC is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

On March 1, Gov. Rick Scott named close ally and Sarasota businessman Carlos Beruff as chair. Beruff recently lost his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and prior to that, he served as executive director for the Southwest Florida Water Management Board. Following his appointment, Beruff announced that Jeff Woodburn, the Governor’s policy director, would serve as the CRC’s executive director responsible for coordinating the work of the CRC.

Outlined below are the appointments to the CRC:

Governor Rick Scott

  • Dr. Jose “Pepe” Armas – Physician and healthcare executive; chairman of MCCI Group.

  • Lisa Carlton – Former senator; co-owner and manager of Mabry Carlton Ranch in Sarasota County.

  • Timothy Cerio – Attorney and shareholder with GrayRobinson law firm; former general counsel to Gov. Scott.

  • Emery Gainey – Director of Law Enforcement Relations and Victim Services & Criminal Justice Programs for the Attorney General’s Office; former sheriff of Marion County.

  • Brecht Heuchan – Founder and CEO of ContributionLink, LLC, a political intelligence, data analytics and fundraising company.

  • Marva Johnson – Corporate vice president for Bright House Networks and chair of the Florida State Board of Education.

  • Darlene Jordan – Executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, a nonprofit education, health, and youth services organization and current member of the Board of Governors of the State University System.

  • Fred Karlinsky – Co-chair of the Greenberg Traurig Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group; recognized authority on national insurance regulatory and compliance issues.

  • Belinda Keiser – Vice chancellor of Keiser University; advocate for student access to higher education

  • Frank Kruppenbacher – Attorney, former member of the Florida Commission on Ethics and Florida Commission on Sales Tax Reform.

  • Dr. Gary Lester – Vice president of The Villages for Community Relations; ordained Presbyterian minister

  • Jimmy Patronis – Commissioner on the Florida Public Service Commission (Scott appointee); former member of Florida House of Representatives.

  • Pam Stewart – Florida Department of Education Commissioner; has served 37 years in education

  • Nicole Washington – State policy consultant for the Lumina Foundation; longtime educator and educational researcher.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga

  • Hank Coxe – Former Florida Bar president; former member of the Judicial Qualifications Commission

  • Arthenia Joyner – Former member of the Florida House and Senate; Tampa attorney.

  • Roberto Martinez – Former federal prosecutor; and former member of State Board of Education and Florida Taxation and Budget Commission.

Senate President Joe Negron

  • Don Gaetz – Former Florida Senate president; co-founder of a hospice care company and former Okaloosa County School Superintendent.

  • Chris Smith – Former senator and senate democratic leader; former president of the Fort Lauderdale Branch of the NAACP Youth Council.

  • Anna Marie Hernandez Gamez – Real estate and commercial litigation attorney; past president of the Cuban American Bar Association.

  • Patricia Levesque – CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education; executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future; former chief of staff to Governor Jeb Bush.

  • Sherry Plymale – Past chair of the State Board of Community Colleges; chief of staff to State Education Commissioner Frank Brogan; trustee of Florida Atlantic University and St. Leo University.

  • William “Bill” Schifino Jr. – 2016-17 president of the Florida Bar; former president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and chair of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

  • Bob Solari – Indian River County Commissioner; former Vero Beach City Council member; retired businessman.

  • Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch – Former middle and high school teacher; former city commissioner and mayor of Sewall’s Point.

  • Carolyn Timmann – Clerk of the Circuit Court and comptroller for Martin County; former executive deputy chief of staff to the Governor.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran

  • Rep. Jose Felix Diaz – Represents House District 116 – Miami-Dade County; chair of the Commerce Committee and Chair of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation.

  • Rep. Jeanette Nuñez –  Current house speaker pro tempore, representing House District 119 – Miami-Dade; recognized as a Hispanic Woman of Distinction.

  • Rep. Chris Sprowls – House member representing House District 65 in Pinellas County; current chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

  • Sen. Tom Lee – Currently serves Senate District 20, consisting of parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties; former president of the Senate from 2004-2006. 

  • Sen. Darryl Rouson – Elected to the House in 2008; elected to the Senate in 2016; serves parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties; awarded the Florida Prosecutor Association Award. 

  • Sheriff Chris Nocco – Has served Pasco County since 2009; former staff director to Representative Marco Rubio. 

  • Erika Donalds – Certified public accountant and certified global management accountant; chief financial officer/chief compliance officer and partner at Dalton, Greiner, Hartman, Maher & Co., LLC. 

  • Rich Newsome – Senior partner of Newsome Melton law firm; appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the 5th District Court of Appeals Judicial Nominating Commission. 

  • John Stemberger – AV-rated Orlando civil trial lawyer; formerly appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 9th Judicial Circuit. 

The CRC will now begin meeting. They must complete their work and submit any proposals for revising the Constitution to the Secretary of State no later than 180 days before the 2018 General  Election (May 10, 2018). The General Election will be held on Nov. 6, 2018, and all proposed constitutional amendments must garner at least 60 percent approval by the voters in order to pass. Unless otherwise specified in the ballot language, constitutional amendments take effect the January following the November election.

Some high-profile topics that may be debated by the CRC could include redistricting, the correctional system, the state’s lottery process, term limits, and gaming. The last CRC (1997-98) put forth nine constitutional amendments for voter consideration -- eight of which were approved. 

All of the CRC meetings will be televised publicly on the Florida Channel. At a later date, public comments and recommendations can be submitted to the commission for consideration/review.