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.