In the history of amending the Florida constitution by the referendum process, the only change we unreservedly approved of was the one that requires a 60 percent in favor vote, instead of a 50 percent-plus one simple majority, to approve an amendment. Because the constitution requires it, a Constitutional Revision Commission was empaneled in 2017 and came up with eight proposed revisions that were placed on the ballot, to be voted on this Nov. 6. A legal battle has erupted over the proposed amendments. The most contentious point is whether it is legal to “bundle” unrelated proposed changes into a single amendment that must be voted up or down as a whole. Based on its recent rulings, the Florida Supreme Court has emphatically said maybe.
If we’ve been reading the tea leaves correctly, the court seems to be trying to say it’s OK to bundle certain proposals, some controversial and some innocuous, to get the controversial one approved. The Supreme Court has axed Amendment 8 from the ballot. It would have set term limit for school board members, required the teaching of “civic literacy” and, much more controversially, removed control over charter schools from school boards and given it to a state panel. On the other hand, there is Amendment 10, which would change when the Legislature meets in regular session and require counties to elect officials such as sheriff, tax collector and clerk of the court. We imagine the latter might prove controversial in the counties in which these positions have been appointed for years.
Frankly, we’re not sure why 10 was OK with the court and 8 wasn’t. This is another argument for leaving the constitution alone.