Florida vot­ers

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Gray Rohrer grohrer@or­lan­dosen­tinel.com or 850-222-5564

will get the chance to ban off­shore drilling when they head to the bal­lot booth this Novem­ber. And they’ll also vote on whether to ban va­p­ing in in­door work­places.

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE — Florida vot­ers will get the chance to ban off­shore drilling when they head to the bal­lot booth this Novem­ber. But in or­der to do it, they’ll also have to vote to ban va­p­ing in in­door work­places.

The cou­pled is­sues’ pro­posal was among several is­sues lumped to­gether and passed Mon­day by the Florida Con­sti­tu­tion Re­vi­sion Com­mis­sion, a panel of 37 mem­bers that con­venes ev­ery 20 years to pro­pose changes to the state con­sti­tu­tion.

Some com­mis­sion­ers, though, ob­jected to a se­ries of pro­pos­als that were joined with other is­sues in one amend­ment, pre­vent­ing vot­ers from vot­ing solely on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue.

“I think peo­ple are go­ing to get the idea that we’re try­ing to pull a fast one on them,” said Com­mis­sioner Roberto Martinez, a Coral Gables lawyer. His amend­ment to de­cou­ple some of the is­sues was de­feated.

Com­mis­sioner Brecht Heuchan, who led the panel that fused many of the dif­fer­ent pro­pos­als to­gether, de­fended his cou­pling of the is­sues. He noted that past com­mis­sions folded several pro­pos­als into the same bal­lot ques­tion, such as in 1998, when vot­ers ap­proved a mea­sure that al­lowed for pub­lic cam­paign fi­nanc­ing and made school board elec­tions non­par­ti­san.

“This idea that vot­ers are go­ing to get con­fused is lit­er­ally ab­surd,” Heuchan said. “We’re be­ing asked to throw over and aban­don ev­ery prece­dent that’s ever been set in the state of Florida.”

One of the most controversial pro­posed amend­ments ap­proved by the panel would place eight-year term lim­its on school board mem­bers; re­quire K-12 schools to teach and pro­mote civic lit­er­acy; and take con­trol of char­ter schools away from lo­cal school boards.

That pro­posal passed by a 27-10 vote. Those who voted against it blasted the in­clu­sion of the pro­vi­sion strip­ping con­trol over char­ter schools from school boards.

“The ul­ti­mate ques­tion that’s posed is if you want term lim­its and civic lit­er­acy, then you have to give up con­trol of your lo­cal schools,” said com­mis­sioner Arthe­nia Joyner, a former Demo­cratic state se­na­tor from Tampa.

The com­mis­sion also passed an amend­ment that in­cludes a list of vic­tims’ rights, re­quir­ing pros­e­cu­tors to no­tify vic­tims of progress in a case against a sus­pect. But it was grouped with pro­vi­sions to in­crease the re­tire­ment age for state Supreme Court jus­tices from 70 to 75 and to rein­ter­pret ad­min­is­tra­tive law pro­ceed­ings.

An­other pro­posal that will be on the bal­lot groups the cre­ation of schol­ar­ships for the fam­ily mem­bers of de­ceased first re­spon­ders and mil­i­tary mem­bers and a re­quire­ment of a two-thirds vote to in­crease tu­ition and fees at state uni­ver­si­ties.

Vot­ers will also de­cide whether to ex­tend the ban on lob­by­ing by former leg­is­la­tors from two years to six years. That pro­posal is grouped with pro­vi­sions call­ing for the Leg­is­la­ture to meet in Jan­uary in­stead of March each year and set up a coun­tert­er­ror­ism de­part­ment in the Florida De­part­ment of Law En­force­ment.

A pro­posal to phase out grey­hound rac­ing in the state by 2020 was also placed on the bal­lot.

All pro­pos­als need 60 per­cent sup­port from vot­ers to make it into law.

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