Important headlines for April 16th – You down with the CRC?
Excerpt: The CRC is poised to deny voters the ability to choose or reject each proposal on its own merit. That’s because the commission has “bundled” barely related — or wholly unrelated — proposals. If voters like one item in a group of three that have been bundled together, then they have to accept the others, even if they find those proposals unpalatable.
At the CRC, nothing is written in stone — yet. And at its meeting on Monday, members should agree to a motion that member Roberto Martinez plans to make: Unbundle the proposals so that commissioners can consider taking re-votes on the individual merits of each once again and ensure voters aren’t misled.
“Separating each question will make it possible for the voters to clearly understand what it is they are voting for, allowing them to make an informed decision,” writes Martinez, a former U.S. Attorney for Miami-Dade County, to the CRC.
Hot Take: Here's the first thing. The only polling conducted on the CRC demonstrated that only 10% of Floridians know what the heck the CRC is (so you're not alone). Here are some quick highlights so you get what's going on here...
Florida's the only state with a commission like this
The CRC only meets every 20 years (this will be the third meeting in Florida's history)
The 37 members are appointed by state officials with the governor appointing the most of any official (15)
This will be only the third time they've gotten together (the other two were in 1998 & 1978)
They're tasked with reviewing the state constitution and making recommendations for changes
Anything that's approved goes straight the ballot for voter consideration
The proposals that make the ballot almost always pass with voters (8 of 9 did in 98')
So that's what this is and that's why it matters. You'll hear about a lot of angling between now and November about the measures put forward by the CRC. What's most important to me is actual transparency in the proposals that actually make the ballot. History has shown that most of what makes the ballot passes, in large part due to voters voting for what they don't understand. That's led to a proliferation of what I'd call marketing scams to enact significant policy around our state. The most egregious example I've ever seen was the marketing scam of the "penny sales tax" in Palm Beach County in 2016. The language "one cent sales tax" was the literal name on the ballet in Palm Beach County. It passed by a slim margin raising sales tax by 17%. For months afterward, I heard from voters who said they thought it was literally one cent per purchase rather than 1% additionally on all purchases (worth hundreds of dollars per year to the average resident of PBC). Huge money was also put into marketing the scam including the use of the schools and school children themselves.
That's but one example of many of what needs to improve with transparency in the process and it's something to keep in mind as the CRC is likely to load up our ballots with a bunch of policy changes that have to potential to impact everyone in our state.