Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind . . . We might as well require a man to wear the coat that fitted him as a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regime of their ancestors.
. . . Florida is the only state with a regular, appointed Constitution Revision Commission with power to submit its proposals directly to the people.
" We are dealing with a constitutional democracy in which sovereignty resides in the people. It is their constitution . . They have a right to change, abrogate or modify it in any manner they see fit . . . "
Florida law touches every aspect of our daily lives - where and how our houses are built, our safety and health, what we pay for goods and services, the businesses we conduct, the taxes we pay, our ability to vote and participate in government, our schools, the products our farms grow, the quality of our air and water, our roads, and many others.
More important, Florida law can affect our quality of life. It can affect whether or not we can reach our full individual potential, enjoy the bounty of our work and natural surroundings, feel part of a just and supportive community, and live securely in our homes.
Florida Statutes approved by legislators meeting annually in Tallahassee, and signed into law by the Governor, comprise four published volumes totaling 8,184 pages. The Florida Administrative Code interpreting many of these statutes, having the force of law, comprises 25 volumes and more than 29,000 pages. Bound volumes of judicial decisions that clarify and resolve conflicting interpretations add even more to this mountain of words. County and municipal ordinances and regulations add even further.
Providing the framework for all this are the 40 pages and some 38,000 words of Florida's Constitution of 1968, as amended. It is our state's sixth since 1838, when 56 delegates drafted the first constitution in seeking statehood for Florida, granted on March 3, 1845.
The framers of the 1968 Constitution recognized that Florida's extraordinary growth and change in recent decades could continue to create unexpected new demands on state and local governments. To help accomplish needed governmental change, the 1968 Constitution required that a Constitution Revision Commission would review our constitution, draft revisions, and submit them, if any, to Florida voters in 1978, 1998, and every 20 years thereafter.
With the help of the Florida Bar Foundation, the Collins Center has published this guide so that all Florida citizens can have the opportunity to participate fully in drafting constitutional proposals that voters will
decide in the November 1998 elections. We hope this citizen's guide can help you learn about constitutional problems and alternatives, submit proposals in writing, attend and speak at public hearings, meet with commission members, and otherwise take an active part in this important undertaking.