|Meeting Proceedings for July 23, 1997|
PENSACOLA PUBLIC HEARING
July 23, 1997
PRESENTATIONS WERE MADE BY THE FOLLOWING:
VIRGINIA WETHERELL, Tallahassee (Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection)
Article XII, s. 9, fn 1: The time limit for bonding for land preservation should be extended from 2013 to 2020 (or, perhaps simply delete the date).
Article II: Include a basic environmental Bill of Rights in the Constitution, including such things as (1) right to live in an environment free of toxic pollution of manmade chemicals; (2) right to protect and preserve our pristine natural communities; (3) right to insure the existence of the scarce and fragile plant and animal species that share Florida; (4) right to outdoor recreation; and (5) right to sustained economic success within our natural resources capacity. Donít include structures or programs, but simply the basic rights.
DAVID GLUCKMAN, Tallahassee (Florida Wildlife Federation; Save the Manatee Club)
Article IV: Favors unification of Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission.
Article X, s. 16: Strongly favors the net ban
Article XII, s. 9, fn 1: This provision, relating to P2000, should be placed into the main part of the Constitution, not simply exist as a footnote, and the time frames should be eliminated. Proposes "Forever Wild" amendment to ensure that alienation of lands purchased under this program would require an extraordinary or unanimous vote of the Governor and Cabinet.
Unnumbered Article: Favors creating a separate article on environmental issues.
JOHNNIE CLOPTON, Navarre (Organized Fishermen of Florida)
Article XI, s. 3: Supports revision of the initiative process. Something like the net ban should not happen again.
JOHN GUINTA, Pensacola (Self, fishing guide)
Article XI, s. 3 Initiative process should be a last resort. It should be retained and modified. Perhaps regulate funding of proposals; time for public forums, etc. Judges are not enforcing the law; this should not be tolerated.
WILLIAM HYDE, Tallahassee (U.S. Sugar Corp.)
Article XI, s. 3: The Constitution should be difficult to amend. Some possible modifications would include: Increase number of signatures required, perhaps from 8 to 15% of the voters in the last election. Limit the amount of time for the collection of signatures (90-120 days). Require a super majority vote; require the vote of a percentage of the counties. Allow for statutory initiative, with a limited time ( 5 years) in which the Legislature would be prohibited from amending or repealing. Restrict the scope by prohibiting special or local matters, or limit to certain portions of the Constitution.
ROSS GOODMAN, Pensacola (Self)
Article I, s. 2: A basic right should include repealing the "at will" doctrine, providing that persons cannot be fired except for cause.
JIM TUCKER, Fort Walton (Self)
Article VIII: The rulings in Snyder v. Brevard County and Jennings v. Dade County should be overturned. These cases hold that with regard to rezoning applications, a local governing body is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity and must abide by judicial precepts regarding ex parte communications. This denies a person the right to speak to his or her elected representative.
DAVID A. RUSSELL, Crestview (Citizens for Constitutional Property Rights, Inc.)
Article X: Supports an amendment that clearly protects private property from actions that devalue or deny legitimate use to landowners. When a proposed use which is neither a noxious use, nor poses a danger to the general health and welfare of the public, is denied, the landowner shall be entitled to compensation for such disuse. When such denial is based on the concept "for the public good" the burden of proof shall be upon the denying entity to justify the claim that it is for the public good, and shall provide for just compensation to the landowner as determined by a jury of his peers. The cost of such determination shall be at the expense of the entity denying use.
Article XI, s. 3: When a citizens initiative is submitted for review of the Court as required by Florida Statutes, and the court rejects the initiative on the basis of inadequate or unclear ballot title and summary, the Court shall direct the Secretary of the State of Florida to prepare such title and summary with wording that is satisfactory to the Court. Such title and summary shall be prepared with the cooperation of the initiative coordinators and resubmitted to the Court within 60 days following such direction by the Court. Extreme care shall be exercised that the purpose and intent of the initiative is not subverted nor changed so as to reduce the effectiveness of the proposed amendment.
ANDY FRAYSSE, Navarre (Self)
Article VII: A provision should be added to say "No income tax in Florida. No intangible tax in Florida."
Article III, s. 5: The Fifth Amendment should be available to persons in investigations by a house of the Legislature.
Article X, s. 4: Get rid of mechanicsí liens
Article I, s. 6: Regarding public employees not having the right to strike. Keep it.
JERRY MELVIN, Fort Walton Beach (State Representative)
Keep the Constitution simple.
Article V: Promise to fund the state court system should be fulfilled
Article V: Go back to earlier system of judicial structure, including constables, justices of the peace, city judges, etc.
Article V: Executive branch cannot hire outside lobbyists; judicial branch should not be able to do this either.
Article V: Judiciary should not have the power to tax, set fees, or regulate the legal profession.
Article XI, s. 3: Provide that initiatives must first go to the Legislature. The Legislature would have 2 years to act, or the initiative would go on the ballot.
Article I: If a property owner meets all the written requirements, the controlling governmental body should not be able to deny a permit. Terms such as "compatibility" should be reduced to clearly written definitions.
Article IV: Keep the cabinet
Article IX: Keep the elected school superintendents
VICTOR KOLMETZ, Crestview (Self)
Article VII: Property taxes should be collected a month at a time. Donít give politicians a large pool of funds to spend.
Article I: Separate people with communicable diseases, such as AIDS, in schools, etc.
Article VIII: Moral issues should be voted on at the local level. Let counties decide.
Article VI: Conduct non-partisan elections
MALCOLM COBB, Pensacola (Self)
Article VI, s. 4 Term limits are not a good thing, particularly with regard to the Legislature.
Article VII: Abolish or modify the intangible tax. People come to Florida to shield their wealth. Modify the homestead exemption. Mobile home owners should be paying their share of taxes. Sales tax has hurt investment in Florida. For example, Florida is the only southern state with a tax on electricity for manufacturing.
JOHN THOMPSON, Crestview (Self)
Article I, s. 8: Exempt law enforcement officers from the 3-day waiting period to purchase a handgun.
JANET F. deLORGE, Cantonment (Self)
Article VI, s. 2: The age and residency requirements contained in this section conflict with federal law. This should be changed to accurately reflect the state of the law.
Article V, s. 8: The mandatory retirement age for judges should be repealed. Age is not tied to ability. The Judicial Qualifications Commission should handle problems regarding competency.
Entire document: Many editorial changes are needed to make the Constitution more accurate, concise and readable.
DAVE LEAR, Tallahassee (Fish & Wildlife Conservation Committee)
Article IV: Supports the wildlife unification movement, combining the Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission, the Marine Fisheries Commission, parts of the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Marine Patrol.
WALTER F. BIGGS, Pensacola (Self)
Article X, s. 16: Supports the net ban. It should remain in the Constitution.
SHERLEE ARONSON, Pensacola (Self)
Article XI, s. 3: Supports the initiative process
Article I, s. 23: Donít change the privacy clause
Article IV, s. 4: The elected cabinet system is illogical.
JEFF PROPEL, Fort Walton Beach (Self)
Article XI, s. 3: The initiative process should be modified. The document that is to protect us should not be able to be so easily tampered with, as exemplified by the net ban.
Article V, s. 8: Judges should not have to be lawyers.
Article VII: There should be no income tax, or tax on a perceived or appraised value of assets.
DAN SCUPIN, Destin (Self)
Supports the 12 proposals of the Constitutional Liberty Coalition.
Article I, s. 9: Property should not be seized and forfeited unless there has been a felony conviction and exhaustion of appeals by the property owner.
Article I, s. 17: There should be proportionality between the magnitude of a felony and the severity of the forfeiture of property.
Article I, s. 19: A person not found guilty of a crime should not be assessed fees or costs to recover property that was seized, held, impounded or stored by the government, including attorneys fees required to have the property returned.
FRANCES H. JONES, Pensacola (Self)
Article III, s. 16: The state should be reapportioned by an independent commission, selected pursuant to guidelines regarding regions, gender, party affiliation, etc.
GENE FEICHT, Pensacola (Self)
Article VI: Prohibit the second primary. Entails unnecessary time and expense for the Supervisor of Elections and candidates. Supports voting on Saturday and Sunday.
WILLIAM T. DILLON, Pensacola (Self)
Article I, s. 23: Add a provision that would prohibit physician-assisted suicide.
Article VIII: Require penalties if county commission fails to follow the law by thwarting a home rule commission by failing to fund the expenses, as required by law.
PAT BYRNE, Pensacola (State Board of Community Colleges)
Spoke for information purposes. The Board is not currently proposing any issues. They are taking the issue of the K-12 education ballot initiative under consideration at their next meeting. They are satisfied with the structure of the State Board of Education.
WESLEY POOLE, Destin (Chamber of Clean Commerce)
Article I: Private property rights must be balanced with public property rights.
Article VII, s. 18: Donít do away with mandates, they get the job done.
Article IV: Department of Transportation programs for bicycles, walking, etc. are non-existent.
ANNE U. BULLOCK, Pensacola (Florida Retired Educators Association)
Article X, s. 14: Add a provision stating that the administration of the public retirement system shall require the Board of Trustees to hold and invest all assets for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to all members.
DOMINIC CALABRO, Tallahassee (Tax Watch)
Article XI, s. 3: A super majority requirement for constitutional amendments will promote public consensus, voter confidence, greater stability, increase accountability, and safeguard that taxpayers are not subject to the tyranny of the majority. Suggests a 3/5 vote. Require a greater number of signature for initiatives. Increase fines for unlawful conduct relating to initiatives.
Article VII: A super majority should be required to pass taxes - 2/3 or 3/5 of the Legislature.
HAL RETTING, Pensacola (Self)
Article III, s. 16: Supports an independent redistricting commission
Article I, s. 24 and Article III, s. 4: Opposes weakening open meetings provisions
Article VI: Supports public campaign financing
Article II, s. 8: Opposes weakening ethics and disclosure laws
Article V: Merit selection of judges should be continued. Donít elect judges. All should be appointed.
MIKE ROBERTSON, Pensacola (Self)
Article X, s. 6: Changes should be made in eminent domain. Someone needs to do something about special districts. You have no rights before the government actually condemns, and this can be a lengthy period.
PAMELA G. RICH, Fort Walton Beach (Self)
Article I, s. 23: Abortion should be a matter between a woman and her doctor.
Article I: Replace the concept that keeping the family together is the best policy, notwithstanding the familyís dysfunction. There should be a Bill of Rights for Children. With regard to foster children, everyone is represented except the child, particularly older children.
GORDON PORTER, Crestview (Walton County)
Article XII, s. 9, fn 1: Opposes the strong lobby to make it harder to alienate P2000 lands. When the South Walton tract was purchased, it was the intention that inland land be given back to private or public use.
MANLEY FULLER, Tallahassee (Florida Wildlife Federation)
Article IV: Support the proposal to unify the Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission. There is a ballot initiative on this and polling suggests it would be approved.
Article XII, s. 9, fn 1: Supports the continued funding for P2000. Lands acquired through P2000 should be maintained as such.
WILLIAM T. YOUNG, JR., Pensacola (Self)
Article IV: Mandate the creation of a commission to develop specific guidelines regarding the protection of barrier islands, looking at developments on a case-by-case basis.
KIRK SANBORN, Pensacola (Citizens for Good Government)
The common man has no voice and canít do anything without a lawyer or a lobbyist.
Article I, s. 8: Supports the right to bear arms.
ROBERT Q. NEWTON, JR., Pensacola (Freeholders Unicorporated)
The Constitution is too long. Keep it simple.
Article II, s. 8(h)(1): Provide that financial disclusre be filed with the Ethics Commission. The Secretary of State simply sends it to the Ethics Commission.
Article VI: If political parties want primaries, let them have them and pay for them. Then let any qualified candidate run. Everyone should be able to vote in the primary, notwithstanding party registration. Does not support that part of filing fees for candidates goes back to the political parties.
Article XI: Supports statutory initiatives
Article VI: Supports recall elections for public officials.
Article VI: Limit campaign contributions to those who can vote for the candidate.
Article V: Judges should not have to be lawyers
Article VI: Require that all candidates be a registered Florida voter for at least one year, and live in the district for at least 6 months, and continue to live in the district for the entire term.
Article III, s. 16: End the practice of gerrymandering.
ED CASE, Pensacola (F.M. Weston Audubon Society)
Retain and strengthen the preservation of natural resources
Supports creation of a new article of the Constitution for natural resources
Article XI, s. 3: Supports citizens initiatives.
Article I: Opposes extending the property rights laws.
Article II, s. 7(b): Supports extending the requirement that currently exists in the Everglades Agricultural Area (those who cause pollution are primarily responsible for paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution) to everywhere in the state.
Article XII, s. 9, fn 1: Retain the land acquisition trust fund (P2000), indefinitely.
Article IV: Supports unification of the Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission
Article III, s. 11(a)(19): Delete the word "fresh" from the limitation on acts of the Legislature regarding "hunting or fresh water fishing."
DOUGLAS REED, Pensacola (Destin Big Game Club)
Article XI, s. 3: Support citizen initiatives. Provides relief when elected officials turn a deaf ear.
SYLVIA WILSON, Navarre Beach (Constitutional Liberty Coalition)
Supports all 12 of the proposals by the Constitutional Liberty Coalition.
Article I, s. 23: Supports as many laws as can be passed to protect life. Does not support physician-assisted suicide. Would support a constitution provision to protect life from conception through natural death.
STEVE ENNIS, Pensacola Beach (Self)
Article X, s. 16: Do not alter the net ban provisions.
Article IV: Support unification of the Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Florida Marine Patrol
THE FOLLOWING SUBMITTED APPEARANCE CARDS BUT WAIVED THEIR TIME OR DID NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK:
Dr. Frank Biasco, Pensacola (Self)
Marion O. Tidwell, Pace (Florida Farm Bureau Federation)
James M. Coe, Gulf Breeze (Self) Maintain the constitutional net ban
Bernard Penn, Pensacola (Self)
Frank Kurzweg, Pensacola (Self)
Gloria Dawson, Pensacola (Self)
Ernest Rivers, Pensacola (Self)
Mike Bass, Pensacola (Escambia County Commission)
Reed Bell, Sr., Gulf Breeze
Kelvin J. Robinson, Tallahassee (Florida League of Cities)
Stanley Berg, Shalimar (Self) submitted written comments:
Article VI, s. 4: Proposes removing term limits from the Constitution. Term limits take from citizens one of their most precious rights - the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
Article V: Favors applying merit selection and retention to trial judges.
Article XI, s. 3: Proposes that restraints on the initiative process be made. A sharp line should be maintained between constitutional and statutory law.
Maxie Ward Mayes, Fort Walton Beach (Self) submitted written comments:
Article VIII: Do not revise home rule
Article I, s. 24: Do not tamper with Sunshine law
Article V, s. 2(d): Revise to require that the chief judge of each circuit is responsible to see that all circuit court trials and the grand jury be held at the county seat.
Sheila Nichols, Tallahassee (Florida Manufacturing & Chemical Council) submitted written comments:
Article XI, s. 3: Suggests modifying the initiative process, particularly establishing criteria for whether an issue is more properly constitution al or legislative.
Article VII: The stateís tax structure should ensure balance between business and personal taxes. An artificial limit on residential property taxes forces the burden of financing growth onto business.
Article II: Any treatment of environmental matters should recognize the need for balance.