The 1978 Constitution Revision Commission

The first test of this method of changing Florida's constitution came in 1977 and 1978, when the commission considered and proposed revisions to the constitution for the 1978 general election.

After being appointed, the commissioners (serving without pay) conducted 10 public hearings, listening to over 600 witnesses discuss more than 800 proposals. They held 25 meetings to consider 257 proposed changes to the constitution - adopted 87 of them - then held more hearings throughout the state at which more than 200 witnesses testified. They then grouped these 87 proposed changes in eight constitutional amendments submitted to the voters in the November 1978.

Voters rejected all eight amendments in the 1978 elections. However, either by ballot initiative or by legislative proposal in later years, many of the commission's 1978 proposed constitutional changes were adopted and are part of either our constitution or statute law. For example:

Supporters of the Constitution Revision Commission were initially discouraged by voter rejection in 1978. Now, they can show that much of the commission's work found its way into our constitution and statutes, often in basically the same language. "Change often comes slowly in a democracy," wrote the authors of a 1994 article, adding that "in many ways, the [commission] was simply ahead of its time as it set the stage for dramatic changes in Florida."