Is­sues from va­p­ing to vic­tims rights on state bal­lot in Novem­ber

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - OBITUARIES - News Ser­vice of Florida

Florida vot­ers will de­cide in Novem­ber whether to ap­prove con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments on the rights of crime vic­tims; col­lege tu­ition and ad­min­is­tra­tion; death ben­e­fits for po­lice and first re­spon­ders; term lim­its for school board mem­bers; and bans on oil drilling and va­p­ing in pub­lic places.

The Florida Con­sti­tu­tion Re­vi­sion Com­mis­sion meets ev­ery 20 years to sug­gest changes to the state’s con­sti­tu­tion. This week, the com­mis­sion is de­cid­ing which mea­sures will be on the Novem­ber bal­lot. All amend­ments need the sup­port of 60 per­cent of vot­ers to pass.

Sev­eral of the pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments bun­dle more than one is­sue.

The com­mis­sion Mon­day had a lengthy de­bate about whether the mea­sures should be “un­bun­dled” — which would ef­fec­tively re­quire each is­sue to be voted on separately.

Brecht Heuchan, chair­man of the com­mis­sion’s Style and Draft­ing Com­mit­tee, which bun­dled is­sues, said it was “ab­surd” to think vot­ers would get con­fused. He and other com­mis­sion­ers de­fended the process, in part ar­gu­ing that they were fol­low­ing prece­dents from when the com­mis­sion put mea­sures on the bal­lot in 1978 and 1998.

Among the mea­sures ap­proved Mon­day for the Nov. 6 bal­lot:

Oil drilling and va­p­ing: Com­bined under a “clean air, clean wa­ter” moniker, the sin­gle amend­ment (Pro­posal 6004) would ban nearshore oil and gas drilling and pre­vent peo­ple from va­p­ing or us­ing elec­tronic cig­a­rettes in many pub­lic places.

The com­mis­sion voted 33-3 to back the bal­lot mea­sure.

Florida law cur­rently pro­hibits the state from grant­ing leases to drill for oil or nat­u­ral gas in state coastal wa­ters. But putting into the Con­sti­tu­tion a ban on ex­plo­ration and ex­trac­tion of oil and nat­u­ral gas in coastal wa­ters would be more per­ma­nent.

The va­p­ing mea­sure would ex­pand a 2002 voter-ap­proved con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that banned smok­ing to­bacco in work­places, in­clud­ing gath­er­ing spots such as restau­rants. The pro­posal would ex­pand that pro­hi­bi­tion to ap­ply to “va­por gen­er­at­ing elec­tronic de­vices.”

Tu­ition and death ben­e­fits: The mea­sure would pre­vent state uni­ver­si­ties from rais­ing fees un­less at least 9 mem­bers of the 13-mem­ber boards of trus­tees ap­prove.

It would es­tab­lish “a sys­tem of gov­er­nance” for the 28 state and com­mu­nity col­leges in the Con­sti­tu­tion. It would man­date that each col­lege be gov­erned by a lo­cal board of trus­tees and that the en­tire sys­tem be su­per­vised by the state Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, which is how the sys­tem works now under its cur­rent statu­tory au­thor­ity.

It (Pro­posal 6002) would man­date death ben­e­fits be paid when law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, fire­fight­ers and other first re­spon­ders are killed while per­form­ing their of­fi­cial du­ties.

Mem­bers of the Florida Na­tional Guard and ac­tive­duty mem­bers of the U.S. mil­i­tary sta­tioned in Florida would also qual­ify for the death ben­e­fits if they are killed while per­form­ing their du­ties. The mea­sure would also pro­vide tu­ition for the fam­i­lies of first re­spon­ders killed on the job.

It was ap­proved for bal­lot in a 30-7 vote.

School board term lim­its: The ed­u­ca­tion pro­posal would im­pose eightyear term lim­its on school­board mem­bers. That would make school boards sim­i­lar to the Leg­is­la­ture the and state Cab­i­net, where mem­bers are gen­er­ally lim­ited to eight years.

The pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment (Pro­posal 6003) also would di­rect the Leg­is­la­ture to put in law ef­forts to pro­mote civic lit­er­acy in schools.

The mea­sure could lead to the state hav­ing con­trol over pub­lic schools that would not be es­tab­lished by school boards.

Com­mis­sioner Roberto Martinez, a Coral Gables at­tor­ney and for­mer mem­ber of the State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, said the pro­posal is de­signed to cre­ate a state process to over­see char­ter schools. That would come af­ter years of clashes be­tween some county school boards and char­ter-school op­er­a­tors about whether char­ter schools should be al­lowed to open. Char­ter schools are pub­lic schools that are typ­i­cally run by pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Crime vic­tims’ rights and judge re­tire­ment age: Fo­cused on a vic­tims’ rights ini­tia­tive known as Marsy’s law, the pro­posal seeks to en­sure the rights of vic­tims to re­ceive in­for­ma­tion and pro­vide in­put dur­ing crim­i­nal cases. Also, for ex­am­ple, it would en­sure vic­tims have the right to talk with pros­e­cu­tors about is­sues such as plea agree­ments, resti­tu­tion and sen­tenc­ing.

Among other things, the pro­posal (Pro­posal 6001) also would es­tab­lish a right for the safety of vic­tims and their fam­ily mem­bers to be con­sid­ered when bail is set in crim­i­nal cases.

The mea­sure would change a manda­tory re­tire­ment age for state judges from 70 to 75.

The mea­sure also in­cludes a pro­posed change that would af­fect le­gal cases in­volv­ing the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of state laws or rules. The pro­posal would di­rect judges to not “de­fer to an ad­min­is­tra­tive agency’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion” of the laws or rules in the cases.

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