1 STATE OF FLORIDA
CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION
DATE: December 11, 1997
TIME: Commenced at 9:00 a.m.
11 Concluded at 12:45 p.m.
12 PLACE: The Senate Chamber
13 Tallahassee, Florida
14 REPORTED BY: JULIE L. DOHERTY, RPR
MONA L. WHIDDON
15 KRISTEN L. BENTLEY
16 Division of Administrative Hearings
The DeSoto Building
17 1230 Apalachee Parkway
2 W. DEXTER DOUGLASS, CHAIRMAN
3 CARLOS ALFONSO
CLARENCE E. ANTHONY
4 ANTONIO L. ARGIZ (EXCUSED)
JUDGE THOMAS H. BARKDULL, JR.
5 MARTHA WALTERS BARNETT
ROBERT M. BROCHIN
6 THE HONORABLE ROBERT A. BUTTERWORTH (EXCUSED)
7 CHRIS CORR
SENATOR ANDER CRENSHAW
8 VALERIE EVANS
9 BARBARA WILLIAMS FORD-COATES
ELLEN CATSMAN FREIDIN
10 PAUL HAWKES
WILLIAM CLAY HENDERSON (ABSENT)
11 THE HONORABLE TONI JENNINGS
THE HONORABLE GERALD KOGAN
12 DICK LANGLEY
JOHN F. LOWNDES
13 STANLEY MARSHALL
14 JON LESTER MILLS
15 ROBERT LOWRY NABORS
16 JUDITH BYRNE RILEY
KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE
17 SENATOR JIM SCOTT
H. T. SMITH
18 CHRIS T. SULLIVAN
ALAN C. SUNDBERG
19 JAMES HAROLD THOMPSON
PAUL WEST (ABSENT)
20 JUDGE GERALD T. WETHERINGTON
STEPHEN NEAL ZACK
22 IRA H. LEESFIELD (ABSENT)
LYRA BLIZZARD LOGAN (ABSENT)
2 (Quorum taken and recorded electronically.)
3 SECRETARY BLANTON: Will all unauthorized visitors
4 please leave the chamber. All commissioners please
5 indicate your presence. All commissioners please indicate
6 your presence.
8 SECRETARY BLANTON: All commissioners indicate your
9 presence. All commissioners, indicate your presence.
11 SECRETARY BLANTON: Quorum present, Mr. Chairman.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. We'll come to order
13 please. Will everyone take their seats, please. Will all
14 unauthorized people please leave the chamber.
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Take your seats, please. Would
17 all commissioners and guests in the gallery, please rise
18 for the opening prayer given this morning by the Reverend
19 Emory Hingst, pastor of St. Stephen Lutheran Church in
20 Tallahassee. Reverend Hingst.
21 REVEREND HINGST: Amid the multiple and diverse
22 issues of fate and life in your world, we now ask for your
23 presence all mighty and loving God. By and with your
24 spirit, remind us at this moment, and throughout this day,
25 the very essence of our existence, the very core of our
1 salvation, the joy of our lives and the privilege and
2 responsibility to be in community with you and your family
3 of humankind begins and ends in you.
4 Oh gracious God we acknowledge your perfection and
5 our imperfection by coming to you and asking you for your
6 continued acceptance and forgiveness. Forgive our
7 forgetting, forgetting our mixed motivations, or
8 forgetting to walk in the shoes of experience of those
9 different from ourselves, so often forgetting the silent
10 ones and hurting ones of our community and our state.
11 We also ask for your stirring presence in us, stir up
12 our sensitivity to be aware of our motivations, needs and
13 wants as well as the needs and wants of other persons and
14 other people. Guide our vision to see more fully and
15 frequently the goal of justice with peace for all
17 Build into our world the desire to remove the walls
18 and barriers which separate people by race, culture,
19 economics or any other divisive means. And kindle in us
20 the desire to be more completely tuned into the excitement
21 of constructing bridges of care and avenues of mutual
22 growth and shared opportunity in the citizenry movement
23 beneficial to all. Be with us, O God, at this moment and
24 every moment of our lives to direct us to be more human
25 according to your creation, to appreciate, care for and
1 share the gifts of our environment, to celebrate the gift
2 of life. Amen.
3 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Thank you, Reverend. Would
4 Commissioner Riley please come forward and lead us in the
5 pledge this morning?
6 (Pledge of allegiance.)
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Reverend, that was very inspiring
8 that we all appreciate and we have an opportunity to go
9 with it to our own various religions.
10 Before advancing to the daily order of business, I'd
11 like to say, for the benefit of those that might have had
12 too many things of your desk yesterday, I'll be hosting a
13 cocktail party in the lobby of the Old Capitol this
14 evening following your committee meetings at 5:30. Or you
15 can come at 5:30, and I look forward to seeing all of you
16 at that event. This has been announced as a nonbusiness
17 event, and we can all relax and enjoy ourselves at that
18 event. I trust that you will all come. I was told by
19 Commissioners Evans-Jones she didn't know anything about
20 it, so I thought I would make sure everybody knew about
21 it, and you are invited to be there.
22 We will not have canapes tonight. I don't know what
23 they are, that's why we are not having them. But we will
24 have roast beef and stuff like that. We will now proceed
25 to the daily order of business.
1 Commissioner Barkdull.
2 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
3 members of the commission. The rules committee met
4 yesterday afternoon, and on your desk is a proposed
5 calendar. I'd like to make some observations as to
6 certain matters that appear therein. On Page 4,
7 commencing with Proposal 97 by Commissioner Evans, there
8 are four matters there that are indicated that if received
9 we would take them up. They were not received, so they
10 will not be taken up. And when we get to that portion of
11 the calendar we will move to temporarily past them.
12 Going to Page 5, you will -- the first column, about
13 halfway down, is Proposal 94, and then on the right-hand
14 column, proposals 108, 153, and 160. These were all
15 received from the committees and they will be considered.
16 They were voted out unfavorably. Those will be the only
17 changes that I'm aware of at this time on the special
18 order. And with those modifications, I move that the
19 special order be approved.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Just one correction. The
21 Proposal 153 and Proposal 60 I understand reported out
22 favorably, and of course we will come to that when we get
23 to it, and the other one was -- the other two were
25 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Correct.
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So that will be the way we will
3 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Question from Commissioner
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Connor.
6 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Chairman, I have a point of
7 inquiry if I might. Yesterday, with unanimous consent of
8 the body, one of the proposals submitted by Commissioner
9 Rundle was withdrawn from consideration. And I learned,
10 and probably should have learned in advance, but frankly
11 things were happening so quickly, that that proposal
12 involved authorization of the ethics commission to
13 initiate investigations. I would, if it's appropriate, I
14 had, like as a member of the winning side, if it's
15 appropriate, to move to reconsider the withdrawal of that
16 proposal. It is one about which I feel strongly and I
17 feel other former members of the ethics commission may
18 well -- feel strongly as well, and I'm not sure we fully
19 appreciated the significance of what we were doing.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You can move to reconsider with a
21 voice vote.
22 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: I would do that, sir.
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right.
24 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Mr. Chairman, I was --
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Who was up first, Commissioner
2 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I was going to question whether
3 you can move to reconsider. You can move to reconsider
4 action taken, but I think once something is withdrawn, I
5 think it is withdrawn.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: The Secretary informed me that
7 the most -- I'm relying on my parliamentarian here. She
8 tells me it would be correct for the vote to be determined
9 since there was a motion made and that the vote on the
10 motion could be reconsidered or he could ask permission to
11 waive the rules and introduce it himself and have it
12 brought back into consideration, either one.
13 It is my understanding he has moved to reconsider the
14 motion by which it was withdrawn. And in order to
15 overcome that, I would have to get a majority vote -- no.
16 SECRETARY BLANTON: I think it would be a waiver of
17 the rules.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It would be a waiver of the
19 rules, he would have to get unanimous consent, according
20 to my secretary here.
21 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Mr. Chairman, I move we waive
22 the rules and request that by unanimous consent that
23 proposal either be reinstated by one of its original
24 sponsors, or alternatively I would request the opportunity
25 to sponsor it.
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, I think what you should do
2 is, since it's been withdrawn, is ask unanimous consent to
3 file it as your own proposal.
4 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Then I do make that request,
5 Mr. Chairman.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now Senator -- Commissioner
8 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It was my understanding, from
9 what Commissioner Rundle said, that the ethics
10 commission -- that they really didn't want this proposal,
11 so I object.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, you don't get a unanimous
13 consent, so if there are any other ethic commission
14 proposals that come up, you can obviously offer it as an
15 amendment. Commissioner Freidin?
16 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: I would ask a question of
17 Commissioner Rundle, if she had some conversation with the
18 people from -- I think it was Bonnie Williams from the
19 ethics commission that spoke to the committee, and I think
20 she was very cautious about saying that she was not
21 authorized on behalf of the ethics commission to take a
22 position. She had -- she expressed some potential
23 problems with the proposal but she did not take a
24 position. So unless -- unless you had some other
1 COMMISSIONER RUNDLE: All my information was from --
2 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Well, maybe that was a
4 COMMISSIONER RUNDLE: The impression that I got was
5 that she did not, nor did the commission itself support
6 that particular proposal. So in view of that, it was my
7 opinion that it was a proposal that should not move
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioners, let's don't get
10 balled up on this too much. What I believe is the correct
11 ruling on this is it would take unanimous consent to
12 reconsider in this instance. It would take a two-thirds
13 vote to waive the rules, and therefore Commissioner Connor
14 has moved to waive the rules to allow him to introduce
15 this proposal; and therefore, it will take a two-thirds
16 vote of the body to -- for him to do that.
17 And what I am prepared to do, and will do, is to call
18 for a vote on the waiver of the rules to allow
19 Commissioner Connor to introduce this proposal as his own
20 proposal, and therefore all in favor of waiving the rules,
21 say aye. All opposed?
22 (Verbal vote taken.)
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. We will take a vote,
24 unlock the machine.
25 (Vote taken and recorded electronically.)
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Everybody voted? Lock the
2 machine and record the vote.
3 READING CLERK: Twenty-eight ayes and four nays,
4 Mr. Chairman.
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Go ahead.
6 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: All right, Mr. Chairman, I
7 don't know whether you put the motion to approve the
8 calendar, which I made. We got interrupted.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We have a motion to approve the
10 calendar. All of those in favor say aye; all opposed.
11 (Verbal vote taken.)
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It is approved.
13 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: As we talked about yesterday,
14 we are going to schedule tomorrow's session at 8:30 to
15 begin with no lunch break. We hope to conclude around
16 1:30. There will be snacks and fruit available in the
17 rest area.
18 Two proposals that were referred to committees
19 yesterday are available for consideration this afternoon
20 during the committee's committee meetings. They are not
21 on the schedule, but I am making the announcement because
22 they were referred yesterday, and that's committee
23 substitute for Proposal 45 on unification which involves
24 the Game and Freshwater Commission and Marine Fisheries,
25 is in the Legislative committee. And Proposal 40 relating
1 to the division of school districts is in the education
2 committee. Both of those will be available for
3 consideration by those committees when they meet today.
4 Lunch today will be the same as yesterday, hopefully a
5 half hour or 40 minutes in the lounge area.
6 The select committee on Article V costs is scheduled
7 to meet at 4:00 this afternoon in Room 301 for those that
8 are interested in those items. I will call your attention
9 again, and hopefully at the end of this session you will
10 be prepared, those of you that are interested in
11 withdrawing any proposals, as we conclude this morning's
12 session, so the staff will know how to handle them. I
13 know I've got a couple I want to ask to be withdrawn, so
14 I'm just alerting you to that fact that we will get to
16 Other than that, Mr. Chairman, that concludes the
17 report of the rules committee.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. We will take up
19 committee substitute for Proposal 70, which we were
20 involved with when we adjourned. What I would like to
21 suggest is that, because of the procedural knots that we
22 got tied into there, that we move to reconsider all
23 pending amendments and start over.
24 (Off-the-record comment.)
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: She tells me that all we need to
1 do is move to reconsider the amendments to the substitute
2 and then start over.
3 All right. Because actually this thing -- we have
4 got it too complicated. Basically, the substitute was by
5 Commissioner Mills. And I'd like to go back and have that
6 read before we do this, if you would like.
7 (Off-the-record comment.)
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: She tells me that where we got
9 balled up was the amendments to the substitute were
10 actually amendments to the proposal and they were adopted,
11 so now the substitute includes those. And so we still had
12 one pending, did we not?
13 (Off-the-record comment.)
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I'm going to rule
15 that the -- to save some time, that the -- read the
16 substitute if you would, please.
17 READING CLERK: By Commissioner Mills, on Page 2,
18 Lines 16 and 17, delete those lines and insert Paragraph
19 A1 for purposes of this section.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Now, the other
21 proposals -- amendments, rather, that were passed -- or
22 were they passed?
23 (Off-the-record comment.)
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I'm going to state
25 for the record that the amendments were to the proposal
1 rather than the substitute, and the substitute we start
2 clean -- as clean as we can.
3 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I have a -- if there is some
4 motion here, I have a substitute; or if not --
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Scott.
6 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: All right. Mr. Chairman, I move
7 that we -- I have a motion that says that all those
8 amendments be shown adopted to the substitute so that we
9 don't have to go back through every one of these. Now I
10 recognize that Commissioner Mills has somebody that wants
11 to reconsider one of them, but we can still do that.
12 Rather than go back through all of this again, I mean, we
13 are going to spend another hour that we have spent
15 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That's right. I take your
16 motion. The motion is that the amendments that were
17 adopted be amendments to the substitute.
18 (Off-the-record comment.)
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: No, his motion was as to the
20 substitute, wasn't it; wasn't that your motion?
21 (Off-the-record comment.)
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That's what I was trying to do.
23 All right. We have got to take a vote on this. But the
24 motion is that the amendments that were adopted, we are
25 not going to go back and reconsider them, they are going
1 to be deemed amendments to the proposal. And then, that
2 being the case, we go forward with the substitute, which
3 included those amendments; is that right? Now it does
4 not, all right. I want to make sure.
5 So all in favor of Commissioner Scott's motion which
6 will deem the amendments as having been adopted as
7 amendments to the proposal, please say aye. All opposed
8 say no.
9 (Verbal vote taken.)
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That is done. Now, we are on the
11 substitute, and the substitute is offered by Commissioner
12 Mills. Would you explain that please?
13 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, I will explain it,
14 and then I think there is a motion to reconsider the
15 motion -- the vote by which one of the amendments passed.
16 Which gets us down to -- there is one simple issue.
17 My substitute simply gives the Legislature the
18 discretion to adjust this level, the $200,000 level was
19 the original constitutional level established here as the
20 exemption in homesteads. I think we debated this
21 relatively thoroughly yesterday. I hope people know the
23 In other words those of us who are doing this believe
24 that this is the best thing for most Floridians. This is
25 to protect people who are owed money who are actually
1 victims of people who go bankrupt, so they are not
2 victimized by the huge unlimited exclusion in Florida.
3 Now recognizing that we didn't want to lock ourselves
4 in, this substitute says the Legislature can adjust that
5 level to any level they choose. So if the Legislature,
6 next time around, decides to adjust that to 300, to 400,
7 to 500, they can do that. But under the current status of
8 this proposal, as Mr. Scott will tell you, while this
9 amendment is pending and it is noncontroversial -- I think
10 it is noncontroversial, you can either go ahead and adopt
11 this and then there will be a motion to reconsider the
12 $500,000, or you can take the motion to reconsider the
13 $500,000 now. If this is noncontroversial, that is to
14 give the Legislature the discretion, the way this
15 amendment -- if this passed right now you would have a
16 $500,000 limit with legislative discretion.
17 And I think you might be able to pass that on a voice
18 vote. Because you haven't gotten to the main -- you
19 haven't gotten to the main motion. Then there will be a
20 motion to reconsider the 500,000 and you can determine
21 whether you want the 500,000 to be in the bill.
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Scott.
23 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I think he is correct,
24 Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to clarify that the
25 substitute does not in any way wipe out the other
1 amendments, it is just an additional -- and then he is
2 going to take up the reconsideration.
3 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Langley was up.
4 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Question of the sponsor of the
5 amendment. Does your legislative ability to adjust go up
6 or down?
7 COMMISSIONER MILLS: No. Based on the amendment that
8 was offered yesterday that was now placed in the
9 bill-in-chief, it only goes up.
10 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: One in the amendment that's
11 before us that I see, what does it say?
12 COMMISSIONER MILLS: It wipes out everything other
13 than, according to legislative discretion, to adjust the
15 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Yes, but adjust to me means up
16 or down.
17 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Yesterday Commissioner Hawkes --
18 you know, the two amendments that were just discussed,
19 that Commissioner Scott and the Chairman explained were
20 adopted to the bill-in-chief, one of those amendments was
21 to change the word adjust to raise.
22 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: All right. But what does your
23 amendment say?
24 COMMISSIONER MILLS: My amendment just --
25 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: The substitute amendment wipes
1 out everything prior to it.
2 COMMISSIONER MILLS: No, not the way that this has
3 been explained.
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I'll tell you what we are going
5 to do, whatever we vote on this, we are going to get
6 around to voting on the merits of whether or not we want
7 to do it at all some time this morning.
8 COMMISSIONER MILLS: That's fine.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I think that's the issue that we
10 are going to deal with, ultimately here. So what you are
11 saying, again -- I think I have the same problem as
12 Commissioner Langley. You are leaving everything intact.
13 Commissioner Hawkes' proposal or amendment is now a part
14 of the proposal and you are offering an amendment which
15 would just amend that to say the Legislature can. All
17 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, because those two
18 amendments yesterday were offered, procedurally
19 incorrectly, the Secretary is trying to correct that.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That's correct.
21 COMMISSIONER MILLS: And those have been offered and
22 adopted as a part of the main bill. And they are there.
23 (Off-the-record comment.)
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. We are only dealing
25 with two things, the original Planas' amendment,
1 Commissioner Planas' amendment, and the Mills' substitute.
2 Because you made a substitute, you did not make -- you
3 made a substitute to Planas' amendment, that's what your
4 substitute goes to.
5 COMMISSIONER MILLS: No. Mr. Chairman, maybe the
6 best way to do this is just let the Secretary consider a
7 motion to reconsider the Planas' substitute first. If
8 that fails, then you can consider this which does not --
9 in other words the object of this motion at the moment is
10 not to change Mr. Planas' successful amendment.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Wouldn't the simplest way to do
12 this be just to vote these two down, go back to the
13 original amendment and then you-all start substituting and
14 amending again? I think that's the quickest way to do it.
15 You can offer it again. Let's vote down your substitute
16 and Commissioner Planas' amendment, then he can get up and
17 make his amendment again and maybe he will include what
18 you have got in it and won't need a substitute. And then
19 we can get on track and get back and vote on the original
20 proposal as amended. Is that agreeable? All in favor --
21 yes, Commissioner Evans, I can't see you over there. You
22 are in a dark dress this morning.
23 COMMISSIONER EVANS: It is not my fault I was put
24 over here. I want to know, I want to see in writing,
25 before I have to take another vote on anything. Yesterday
1 afternoon was extremely confusing; it was a flurry, you
2 couldn't help but wonder what in the world was going on,
3 and when it was over I didn't know what had happened. And
4 I want to see it in writing. I don't know what I am
5 voting on, I am very fearful of voting something down in
6 the hopes that somebody might do something else because we
7 might have to have a two-thirds' vote to waive the rules
8 to do it.
9 I would like to see exactly the status, in writing.
10 I don't want to see a piece of paper that doesn't have
11 anything but blanks on it and a little bit of insert here
12 and delete there; I want to see the whole thing written
13 out so I know what I am voting on.
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I'm going to ask Commissioner
15 Langley to see if you can help her out.
16 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: If somebody will help me out,
17 I'll be glad to, but you know --
19 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: The director and I were trying
20 to figure it out over there.
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I will entertain a motion to
22 temporarily pass this --
23 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: So moved.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: -- until the next order of
25 business. All in favor, say aye. Opposed, like sign.
1 (Verbal vote taken.)
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: In the meantime, all of you
3 parliamentarians out there on the floor get together and
4 make a motion that will be acceptable and understood by
5 the rest of us. Thank you very much. We will move on to
6 the next proposal. The next proposal is No. 85 -- order
7 please -- by Commissioner Sundberg.
8 Would you read that, please?
9 READING CLERK: Proposal 85, A proposal to revise
10 numerous provisions of the Florida Constitution, providing
11 for a unicameral Legislature.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Sundberg, you are
13 recognized as a proponent. It was disapproved by the
14 committee on legislative, Article III.
15 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: Mr. Chairman, actually this
16 is a joint proposal by Commissioner Evans-Jones and I, and
17 I would like to yield to Commissioner Evans-Jones for the
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Just a moment. Could you-all
20 step down there out of the line of fire for a moment.
21 Thank you very much. Now, you have yielded to
22 Commissioner Evans-Jones, or do you still have the floor?
23 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: I have yielded to
24 Commissioner Evans-Jones until you said wait a minute.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Evans-Jones, no
1 longer wait a minute; you have the floor.
2 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: All right, thank you,
3 Mr. Chairman. We have a substitute amendment on the
4 floor, at the desk there. And what we are doing in that
5 amendment is taking out the controversial part, at least
6 some of it. We are deleting the reapportionment section
7 there. We decided that that was one of the battles that
8 we really didn't want to take on today.
9 And I don't know whether you have this on your desk
10 or not, but I wanted to just highlight what is in here so
11 that it will save you from going through all of the many
12 pages that are involved.
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Evans-Jones, this is
14 an amendment, is it not?
15 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Yes.
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: And it is on the desk?
17 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Yes.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I'll ask the clerk to read the
20 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Thank you.
21 READING CLERK: By Commissioner Evans-Jones, the
22 following amendment: Delete everything after the proposal
23 clause and insert a lengthy amendment, Mr. Chairman.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now, will you tell us what that
1 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Yes, it does delete the
2 reapportionment section that had been in there initially,
3 and it also adds some things that I want to bring to your
5 In Article III, Section 7, it says that no bills
6 shall become law unless it has been printed and upon the
7 desk of the members in final form at least three days
8 before final passage. And obviously what we are trying to
9 do there is to have an orderly process where the members
10 will know what they are voting on, the press can report
11 it, the constituents would know. So this is just a way,
12 with a one-house Legislature, to try to have it in order.
13 And on the legislative apportionment, we are really
14 saying in there, there may be another amendment there that
15 there shall be no less than 40, no more than 120 members.
16 And, of course, the Legislature would determine what it
17 would be between the 40 and the 120.
18 Another addition there is on Article III, Section 20,
19 compensation of members. The members of the Legislature
20 shall receive an annual salary and such allowances as
21 ascribed by law, but any increase or decrease in the
22 amount thereof shall not apply to the Legislature that
23 enacted it.
24 And the reason that we are putting that in there is
25 we think it would be much more acceptable to the general
1 public to realize that if you vote your raise, you won't
2 get it during your term of office for that particular two
3 years, or whatever the term is.
4 Committees, the presiding officer of the unicameral
5 Legislature would appoint all of the committees. The
6 difference that we have here than what we are doing
7 generally is, the members of the committee themselves
8 would elect their chairman and their vice-chairman, and
9 this way we feel that that would delete the power of the
10 presiding officer and would be a more democratic process.
11 You also would be able to withdraw, with one-third of the
12 members, you could withdraw a bill so that the entire
13 membership could vote on it.
14 And the others are really technical changes on the
15 revision commission. It now says that nine members would
16 be appointed by the Senate and nine members by the House.
17 So we are saying that nine members would be appointed by
18 the presiding officer and nine members by the minority
19 leader. And the same thing with the taxation and budget
20 reform. We are saying that seven members would be
21 selected by the presiding officer and seven by the
22 minority leader. Which would be sure that they would have
23 proper representation. And those, basically, are the
24 changes, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment contains.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. So we are now on the
1 amendment to the main proposal, Proposal 85, unicameral
2 Legislature. Does anybody want to speak on that, on the
3 amendment? All right. If not, we will take a vote on the
4 amendment. All of those in favor of allowing the
5 amendment, signify by saying aye; opposed.
6 (Verbal vote taken.)
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It is amended. The amendment is
8 adopted. We are now on the proposal of Commissioner
9 Sundberg and Evans-Jones as amended. You still have the
11 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
12 I want to talk to you very briefly about why I think this
13 is such a good idea to have a one-house Legislature. And
14 I had asked my law student assistant to help me get this
15 information and she contacted Lisa Brown of the Joint
16 Legislative Management Committee, and I have these figures
17 here in front of me that I'm sure are quite accurate.
18 You are talking about a savings of at least
19 $98 million a year by having a one-house Legislature
20 instead of two. And I think that's a very significant
21 amount of money that could be utilized for many other
22 purposes. What you have now, you have very efficient,
23 capable staff in the House, and you have very capable,
24 efficient staff members in the Senate. And they are doing
25 the exact same thing. And actually, you simply don't need
1 that, you just need the one house.
2 I would also like to point out that the efficiency
3 would be a lot better. If you have everybody in one room
4 and you are conducting business for the people of Florida,
5 everybody knows what you are doing. Under the current
6 system you have a House that's operating, the members and
7 the lobbyists are running back and forth from the House to
8 the Senate, and it is pretty much mass chaos; nobody
9 really knows what anybody is doing. And this would bring
10 order into the system.
11 You don't have, in giant corporations, you don't have
12 two boards of directors, you have one. That's how to run
13 things. You don't have two county commissioners, boards
14 of county commissioners, you have one in the county. And
15 I think that when Baker versus Carr gave us the decision
16 that, one man, one vote, that now this is just absolutely
17 not necessary to have it this way.
18 We, a long time ago when they first started having a
19 House and a Senate, the people in the Senate were really
20 the landed gentry, the property owners. Those in the
21 House were so-called the masses. But now we don't have
22 that anymore. We have one man, one vote. And I think
23 that it is absolutely unnecessary.
24 Nebraska is the only state that has done this. And
25 you may say, well why haven't other states done this. And
1 the reason is because most of the states -- or none of the
2 states have the opportunity that we have here in this
3 Constitution Revision Commission to be able to put things
4 directly on the ballot.
5 And this gives us an opportunity to do something very
6 significant that would make a lot of difference here in
8 You can rest assured, because I tried it in 1981, to
9 introduce the unicameral Legislature in the House, and
10 obviously it never got out of committee, no big surprise.
11 The Legislature itself is not going to vote to have the
12 one house. There would be members who would do that, but
13 I'm sure you would not get the majority of the people to
14 do that.
15 I'm going to yield right now to Commissioner
16 Sundberg, and then I'll be happy to answer any questions
17 that anybody might have. And so, Mr. Sundberg.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Sundberg.
19 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
20 Apart from the savings that the commissioner refers to,
21 and I think they are clearly significant, I suggest to you
22 that this proposal passes those sort of fundamental tests
23 that we have, I think, or that we ought to have for the
24 sort of proposals we ought to be moving forward in this
25 process. Mr. Brochin has suggested them from time to
2 This clearly is not a matter that can be handled
3 legislatively, for a lot of reasons. It goes to the
4 fundamental basis of governance. It goes to one of the
5 three coordinate branches of government. This is a
6 singularly appropriate body to consider this.
7 Secondly, I suggest to you it meets the test of being
8 good public policy. I believe it is a good public policy
9 base apart of the gain of significant savings, I think it
10 will streamline and simply the procedure by which
11 proposals become law in this state. I think this has two
12 virtues to it.
13 The first is I think it will significantly diminish
14 the influence of special interests. It is very easy to
15 hide the ball in a two-house Legislature. Everyone who
16 has had much ado with the Legislature in this house has
17 played the game of hide the ball between one house and the
18 other. It is a very effective device. Except for Senator
19 Langley, of course.
21 So as I say, I think it will --
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That is Commissioner Langley now.
23 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: I think it will significantly
24 diminish the ability of special interests to orchestrate
25 and influence this legislative process. I think another
1 thing of this proposal is at a time when people seem to be
2 completely -- the citizens seem to be completely jaundiced
3 about the process, where I think it is evident from our
4 presence at public hearings around this state that there
5 is this malaise and lack of confidence in the way
6 government operates today, I think this gives us them an
7 opportunity to reenergize their interest in representative
9 Almost everything we heard at our public hearings had
10 to do with direct access. When we talked, almost
11 universally, those people who spoke to the initiative
12 process said, for gosh sakes, don't do away with it, it is
13 the citizens input into our government. I think we heard
14 some of the same things when it had to do with reforming
15 the Cabinet. They want to be sure that that's not done in
16 such a fashion that they lose that ability to have access
17 to government. I suggest to you that this proposal will
18 give the citizen much greater access to the legislative
19 process. It will be much more easily understood by the
20 rank-and-file citizens of this state, and hence it has
21 that virtue to it.
22 For those reasons, as well as those articulated by my
23 cosponsor, I urge your passage of this, and let's move it
24 forward please.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Are there any proponents that
1 want to speak? Any other proponents? Commissioner
2 Jennings, this is proponents.
3 COMMMISSIONER JENNINGS: Commissioners, my staff has
4 certified me as crazy as I am headed for Chattahoochee
5 after this, but I think and I stand today --
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: For a rest, right?
7 COMMMISSIONER JENNINGS: For a rest. I stand today
8 in support of Commissioner Evans-Jones' and Commissioner
9 Sundberg's proposal. And I have done a lot of thinking
10 about this. Now, again, this is our first vote. I may
11 have to think again when it comes back to us, because some
12 of these things in the amendment, like electing the
13 chairman, I am interested in.
14 But think back to June when we were here and we
15 talked about what constitutional revision is all about.
16 And we had Governor Askew and we had Governor Kirk, and we
17 had our Governors come and speak with us. We have had
18 those who have been here before talk with us about the
19 process and what has gone on. And to a person -- they ask
20 us to be visionary, to look ahead, to look to the next 20
21 years, not how we have done it in the past and those
22 things that haven't worked.
23 And I have been fairly reticent to talk about some of
24 our issues that we are here about today because I feel
25 like I have lived through most of them, Senator Scott and
1 Senator Langley, Commissioner Thompson and Commissioner
2 Mills, I mean, we feel like we have been through most of
3 this because a lot of those issues that are before us
4 today are here because the Legislature didn't address
5 them. And as we will find as we go through so many of
6 these, you will find why we didn't address them. Some of
7 them are cost and some are the value of the issues.
8 But as we look forward, and of course I'm speaking as
9 a person who has been involved in this two-house process
10 my entire political career. And you are right,
11 Commissioner Sundberg, we have hidden the ball, we have
12 stolen the ball, we have put the ball in the drawer, we
13 have done all the things we could figure out. And Senator
14 Scott did them all.
16 COMMMISSIONER JENNINGS: And he taught me how to do
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well he is Commissioner Scott.
19 COMMMISSIONER JENNINGS: Well it was Senator Scott
20 that did them.
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Right, he wouldn't do it as
22 Commissioner, would he?
23 COMMMISSIONER JENNINGS: And as we look to the next
24 20 years, you know, I had someone say to me, Well the only
25 people that ever did it was Nebraska. Well, you know,
1 sometimes there is a time to break with tradition. We
2 always did things a certain way. As a matter of fact,
3 Commissioner Scott has framed something or other, and it
4 says, we always did it that way, and then there is the
5 "not" through it.
6 The greatest concern I have -- and there are so many
7 pros. We have talked about the cost of government, we
8 have talked about the size of government, we have talked
9 about people being responsive to their government, knowing
10 who their Representative and their Senator and their House
11 members are, those kind of things. But as we look at it,
12 I guess the biggest reservation I would have is the checks
13 and balances.
14 We said the reason we always had a two-house
15 Legislature -- and it goes back to the old English, the
16 Lords and the common man, and you know, and we continue to
17 think we are the Lords down here, and they continue to
18 remind us that we are not so Lordy most of the time.
19 But those checks and balances will rise to the
20 surface if we are talking about a one-house Legislature as
21 well. It will be the checks and balances of the two-party
22 system, which I wholeheartedly endorse. It will be the
23 checks and balances of the philosophical differences,
24 which you see every single day right here in this chamber.
25 So, as we are sitting here today, and Commissioner
1 Sundberg and Commissioner Evans-Jones said it so well,
2 this is one of those things that nobody else can do. The
3 Legislature can't address it, I guess the people on their
4 own initiative could come back to us with an initiative
5 petition, as they have done on some other issues. But
6 before we just sort of summarily say, No, we have always
7 done it this way, the two houses are best, all those kinds
8 of things, I would just ask that you think about it
9 because we are not looking for today, we are looking for
10 20 years from now, and what may happen in those 20 years.
11 And Florida has led the nation in a number of things.
12 There may be truly a reason for us to lead in this
13 particular circumstance.
14 So now that I have said my peace, the paddy wagon is
15 waiting for me outside, but I'll be back in time for the
16 party. So, Commissioners as we go forward with this vote,
17 think about it. It will need to go to style and drafting,
18 and in that period of time, we will hear from the public
19 on this, believe you me, of all of these issues that we
20 have had out there, this is one that we will probably hear
21 about a little bit more.
22 And it will give us an opportunity to say, maybe this
23 is a good idea -- oh, those are things we didn't think of.
24 And when we come back looking for that two-thirds' vote,
25 there may be a difference as we approach it. But let
1 us -- let this be part of our visioning, let us look
2 forward and not backwards. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Any other proponents?
4 Commissioner Marshall.
5 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Of
6 all the things that the commission has considered, it
7 seems to me, this may be the boldest --
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I'm not sure your mike is on, but
9 try again.
10 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: How are we doing?
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Doing great, we got you.
12 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: Thank you. Of all the
13 proposals considered by the commission, I would judge that
14 this is the boldest that's been before us. And that seems
15 to me to be just the kind of thing this commission ought
16 to be entertaining, ought to be considering.
17 Other speakers have spoken to the efficiency of this
18 move, cost saving, I think that's important. But I think
19 more important is that this is an opportunity for a more
20 direct exercise of democracy than our present legislative
21 arrangement allows. As you pointed out on a previous
22 occasion, Mr. Chairman, I've been around here for a lot of
23 years, and while I've never been a member of the
24 Legislature or been intimately involved with its
25 proceedings, I have watched it closely and with great
1 interest all these years. And I have observed some
2 awkwardness occasionally, and some inefficiency, some
3 great performances by great leaders. But it is not in my
4 judgment to seem to be the most efficient and sometimes
5 not the most effective organization.
6 I think Commissioner Jennings' comment as she posed
7 is right to the point. This is something that deserves
8 the attention of the people of Florida. It will get the
9 attention of the people of Florida. It deserves their
10 thoughts, as expressed to us. For that reason, I would
11 like to support the proposal at this point, hope that it
12 will receive favorable consideration by this body and that
13 it will then be considered and debated by the people of
14 Florida and will have the benefit of their thinking on the
16 So it has my endorsement. Thank you, sir.
17 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Any other proponents?
18 Commissioner Barton.
19 COMMISSIONER BARTON: I certainly have a lot of
20 questions about the proposal, but I would like to see it
21 go forward for a particular reason. And that is that I
22 have checked with some of my political friends in Nebraska
23 to ask them how to works there. And one thing that I
24 found out that intrigues me greatly as an advocate that
25 goes from the grassroots is that it is much more
1 user-friendly than the system that we currently have,
2 which tends to intimidate, tends to remove our elected
3 officials from us. So, for that reason, I am very
4 interested in seeing this proposal go forward so that we
5 can think about it, discuss it, learn more about it,
6 possibly pass it eventually. Thank you.
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Proponents? Commissioner Zack.
8 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I think most everything has been
9 said except for one word, and that's accountability. And
10 I think a unicameral Legislature will give accountability,
11 which is where I think the underlying frustration that we
12 sense in the public begins from -- and they hear, Well we
13 would have done it here in the House except the Senate
14 blocked us. And then the Senate said, Well we would have
15 done it but the House wouldn't let us do it. I'm not sure
16 it is where we need to end up, but I do believe it is
17 something we need to pursue further at this point. Thank
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Proponents? Commissioner
21 COMMISSIONER BROCHIN: I too am going to vote in
22 favor of this, along the lines that Senator Jennings or
23 Commissioner Jennings suggested, that it is as an idea at
24 least worth advancing and giving further consideration to.
25 In speaking with Commissioner Evans-Jones about it as we
1 were about to prepare our respective turkeys over
2 Thanksgiving, I went back and did a little research on the
3 history of a bicameral legislative body and learned that,
4 indeed, there really isn't a very good historical reason
5 for it.
6 The actual proponent of it for our federal
7 Constitution, Roger Sherman, actually you will be pleased
8 to learn was a proponent of the unicameral Legislature and
9 believed that that was the best way for the federal
10 government to be organized, but in proposing the current
11 system, which he did, he did it only in the spirit of
12 compromise so they could come out with a Constitution in
14 So if you track the historical analysis, you don't
15 find very good reason for a bicameral legislation. And
16 I'm sure in the State of Florida with its diversity, the
17 unicameral may be a more accountable way to go. But I
18 think it is worthy of consideration, I think it is worthy
19 for us to move it forward. And as Commissioner Jennings
20 says, I think it is worth us, in a visionary sense, to
21 move it forward. So accordingly, I am going to support it
22 as well.
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I want to suggest,
24 the way these debates are going, I don't think they are
25 getting to the point quickly enough. In the Legislature,
1 generally, someone would rise and say, Would yield for a
2 question, and proceed to bring out the other side of the
3 argument in questioning the proponent while they are on
4 the floor. What I think I may do in the future, unless
5 there is objection to it, is I'm going to go with a
6 proponent and then I am going to go with an opponent, and
7 we are going to see if we can't get a little more pointed
8 debate, because it occurs to me when I listen to each of
9 you on either side, that there is significant arguments on
10 the other side, and if they are not presented while they
11 are going on they tend to get lost in the process.
12 I know we have a few ex-legislators and legislators
13 here and they have probably been a little reticent to jump
14 into the fray like they do, but now we are going to the
15 opponents. And I am saying what I say to remind you
16 proponents that you can ask them to yield for questions
17 and that does create a lot more lively debate.
18 Commissioner Scott is an opponent.
19 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Commissioner Jennings, I was in
20 Chattahoochee. But -- I was temporarily out of my mind
21 but I have it back now.
23 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So I want to start out with
24 that. Let me just make a few comments on this, and with
25 deep respect to Marilyn Evans-Jones, we did not have a lot
1 of discussion about this in committee. I frankly didn't
2 realize that this was something that she had worked on for
3 a number of years, and so we have apologized for that.
4 Okay, let's talk a minute about what we have. What
5 we now have in this country and in every state except one,
6 which other than a great football team, they don't have
7 maybe a lot in common with the state of Florida. We have
8 got a system now where we have got 120 people who have --
9 who run every two years, all of them, and they have their
10 districts. And in Broward County we must have 16 or 18,
11 and I don't know how many in Dade, where they are out
12 there, they are with their -- close to the people, they
13 know -- you know, they have got a smaller area.
14 Then we have 40 Senators that have a broader area, at
15 least three times as many people. And they are supposed
16 to have a little broader view of what's good or bad for
17 the state.
18 I think first of all we have to recognize that
19 government is not a business, we have tried to extol the
20 virtues of running government like a business, but the
21 fact that business might have one board of directors
22 really doesn't apply to what government is all about.
23 So taking that, it is true that when my party
24 achieved control of the Senate, the first thing I did was
25 put in the president's office a sign that basically says,
1 No business as usual. And in the years -- in the last
2 seven years, I might point out that laws -- when I was
3 first elected, I came up here and I introduced a lot of
4 bills and I wrote a newsletter. And I put in it, you
5 know, how proud I was to be elected to serve. And I put a
6 paragraph and I said, I managed to pass 15 bills, 15 bills
7 into law.
8 And so I sent these out at my own expense, basically,
9 in my district to some people. And I get some of them
10 back, and one of them comes back and says, I liked your
11 newsletter until this, and they circled this paragraph
12 where I said I passed 15 bills into law. They said,
13 don't -- it said go up there, don't pass no more, and
14 repeal some. So I think what I guess my point of that is
15 that, what we really need is a lot of caution in changing
16 the law, in changing people's rights and responsibilities,
17 financial, property, their very freedom.
18 The system that we have is not perfect. Democracy is
19 certainly not perfect. We would -- they say the most
20 perfect form is a dictatorship, hopefully benevolent, but
21 we have the system that we have. And while I recognize
22 the expression of the unicameral idea, I really believe,
23 just as an example, the House of Representatives, which is
24 120, which would be the maximum limit that's set here, in
25 the last seven years during the time that Ander Crenshaw
1 was president and I, they have passed some 7 or $8 billion
2 in new taxes, all of which was not passed in the Senate
3 for the most part. I think one year maybe 100 million or
4 something like that.
5 I think the idea of us having a two-house system
6 really helps the people, it espouses a point of view that
7 they are going to have more than one forum to address
8 policy. Efficient and effective, now we could say we
9 could save money by doing one house, 10 million, 2
10 million, I forget the numbers now, but -- but I would like
11 you to look at the cost, potential cost, to the taxpayers
12 of that type of system.
13 So with the deepest -- oh, and someone mentioned,
14 Commissioner Brochin mentioned about the Thanksgiving
15 turkey that he was getting. Well, let me tell you about
16 some other kinds of turkeys. We have had budgets -- and I
17 won't blame this totally on the House because we have got
18 two former Speakers here, but we had turkeys that really
19 even some of the best of us turkey hunters think were
20 terrible that have come out of the House budget, and I'm
21 sure that there have been many in the Senate budget that
22 have come out. And you go to conference on them and you
23 get some sense and you inject, hopefully, between the two,
24 some sense of public responsibility for spending the
25 public's money.
1 So the budget process alone would be, to me, a
2 serious reason for us to have a two-house system. With
3 the greatest respect, I'm trying to remember, I know most
4 of you know this, but Commissioner Jennings and I came to
5 the Legislature the same year. And she was in the House
6 and I was in the Senate when she came over. And I'm
7 trying to remember if we have ever, ever had a debate or
8 disagreed on an issue, and I can't think of one.
9 So, there is a first time for everything I guess.
10 But I would respectfully ask you -- and I don't think
11 that, while it sounds good that we should -- we are
12 talking policy here, I don't think we should just advance
13 something just because it might stir everybody up or
14 because at this point, whatever, we have got enough to do
15 and very little time to do it.
16 So, with the deepest respect -- I mean, if you want
17 to do that -- but I would urge you to seriously think
18 about this kind of fundamental change, as to whether
19 that's what we want our project -- or our product to go
20 out under.
21 So I'm going to vote no on it.
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Commissioner Hawkes.
23 I'll get to the rest of you. Did you have a question?
24 COMMISSIONER SMITH: I had a question.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well then ask him to yield.
1 COMMISSIONER SMITH: Would you yield for a question?
2 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Is it friendly?
4 COMMISSIONER SMITH: I think you will let me know.
5 While I share -- well, do you feel that it is both
6 appropriate and fitting that we advance a visionary idea
7 to hear back from the people, not just to let it go
8 forward, but to hear what the people have to say about
9 their government and the vision that this proposal
11 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Commissioner, I would say,
12 respectfully, no, I don't think we should do that because,
13 why not do that with just anything and everything? You
14 know, I mean, I think that this process, which is unique
15 to Florida, and the way it is comprised and who appoints
16 it, you know, they are looking for our best advice here,
17 you know, as to what we think is basically a good idea.
18 And not just to, you know, run up like a sort of a trial
19 balloon, with all due respect to this particular idea.
20 So I really don't think that we should do that. I
21 think that we should -- I mean if you want to -- if you
22 want to try to get more input, delay, whatever, that's
23 fine. But I really don't think that we should make an
24 expression because so many times that we have seen this,
25 in group processes, I mean, it can get out of hand, so to
1 speak, it could go, whatever, or it could have an adverse
2 effect, we don't know. And I really think that in some of
3 these more controversial areas that we have, we really owe
4 it to the people to give it our best view of what we think
5 the results should be.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Hawkes. Any more
7 questions? If not, Commissioner Hawkes has the floor.
8 COMMISSIONER HAWKES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
9 Obviously a two-house Legislature is less efficient than
10 what a unicameral Legislature would be. And obviously
11 democracy is less effective than what other forms of
12 government might be. And the reason that we have three
13 separate branches of government is to provide some of
14 those checks and balances and to make sure that power is
15 divided so that the people are protected.
16 If you think that the Senate is in essence the same
17 as the House it is just that there is different people
18 that sit there, all you would have to do sometimes is come
19 and watch when the Legislature is in session and sit up in
20 the gallery. Maybe the first thing you will notice even
21 before they come into session, is the Senate doesn't have
22 any glass from the public to them. And in the House, they
23 have glass from them to the press. I never quite
24 understood that. But in the House they have glass from --
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It is bulletproof.
1 COMMISSIONER HAWKES: They have glass from the pulpit
2 to the chamber, but they don't have glass in the press box
3 to the chamber, so just the opposite of what they have
4 here. But one of the reasons I think the House has that
5 is, if you watch it, the House is -- I have always thought
6 it is dynamic; it is alive; it is productive. And unruly,
7 Senator Langley.
8 But the Senate -- and I think that the behavior -- I
9 was marveled because obviously when you go through civics
10 class they tell you that there is a reason for this, that
11 they do have this different perspective, and you read
12 about it in books and you answer the questions on the
13 exams, and you think, okay, that's fine and dandy, but
14 when you become involved in the process you see that there
15 really is a difference. A Senator's perspective is
16 different than a House member's perspective. The ideas
17 that come out of the House are different from the ideas
18 that come out of the Senate, and it is very -- as a
19 consequence, it is very, very difficult to pass a bill
20 into law.
21 And I think it is good that it is difficult to pass a
22 bill into law because that requires people to think about
23 it and consider it and evaluate it and receive public
25 The other thing about a legislative chamber, of
1 course, is that there is legislative leadership, and this
2 chamber is full of former legislative leadership, and
3 obviously people's leadership skills are going to affect
4 in part how powerful they are. But I would submit to you
5 that any Speaker of the House or President of the Senate
6 is extremely powerful. And I think the other chamber, as
7 a check and balance on that, protects the public.
8 I guess when I was in the House we passed maybe 400
9 bills a year that would come out, and some of those
10 obviously are technical and of no real controversy, and
11 some are fairly insignificant of no real controversy. But
12 the most amazing part, when I look back, is every once in
13 a while we would pass a boondoggle, something that all of
14 our constituents will start to call and we would get all
15 kinds of letters and we couldn't wait until the chance to
16 come up here and fix what we did. But the amazing thing
17 is that happened really very seldom. And I think that's
18 proof in the pudding, we didn't make a lot of mistakes
19 that upset the people of the state of Florida in a broad
21 Maybe we didn't do some of the things that
22 Commissioner Zack mentioned that some people would like to
23 see done, but I would submit that it wasn't a big outpour
24 when we got back.
25 When the Legislature has failed to act, perhaps the
1 net ban is an example of that, the people take it into
2 their own hands and they do in fact -- so I would ask you
3 to leave the current system in place; it is a vibrant
4 system; it is a dynamic system. And I thinks the system
5 has worked well for the state of Florida with 14 million
6 people and very complex and diverse issues. Thank you.
7 And I would be happy to answer questions.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Are you asking him to yield, or
9 are you rising as a proponent?
10 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Opponent.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Opponent.
12 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Yes.
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You have the floor.
14 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
15 Folks, I won't be long, but I either have the advantage or
16 disadvantage of having served up here 18 years in either
17 the House or the Senate, and that does make us some sort
18 of experts, if you please, in this action.
19 You know, they say there is two things you don't want
20 to watch being made, one is sausage and the other is law,
21 because of what goes into it. But what we have has worked
22 very well. And I'd like to speak to some of the arguments
23 of the proponents of this bill. As far as accountability,
24 I can't imagine how you can perceive that one house with
25 less representatives can be more accountable than two
1 houses, and one of those houses serving much smaller
2 districts than the other and having more exposure to their
3 people because they have a smaller district.
4 And as far as hiding the ball, it is a whole lot
5 easier for one person to hide a ball or a secret than it
6 is for two, Mr. Commissioner.
7 And again if you speak to efficiency, as Senator
8 Scott alluded to briefly, the most efficient government is
9 a dictatorship, and so if we really want to contract this,
10 we ought to just give it all to the Governor or give it
11 all to the Cabinet and hope they behave well and treat us
13 When you look at what the Legislature, both houses,
14 spends compared to the 40-plus billion dollars the State
15 spends, it is a small cost of having a representative
17 What bothers me most about one house, I came here in
18 '72 as one of 27 Republicans in a House of 120. The
19 speaker then was not a benevolent dictator, he was a
20 ruthless dictator. And I will never forget now, my good
21 friend, Carl Logden, making the statement, All of these
22 Republicans ought to be on the back row in straight-back
23 chairs. That's what he thought of it. And the
24 concentration of power to me is the biggest evil in
25 government when a few people, the Speaker of the House,
1 whether it be the President of the Senate, and a few of
2 his lieutenants can control this whole process, that is an
4 Fortunately, there is competition between the House
5 and the Senate. There is always competition between the
6 President and the Speaker. They all want to be the hero,
7 and you know that's -- if you're not an egomaniac, you
8 don't have any business in politics anyway, because we all
9 are. As I used to say, there are 119 egomaniacs and me
10 down there.
11 But really this is a healthy thing that we have this.
12 And it is a healthy thing that both houses do come from
13 different perspectives. A house is elected or not every
14 two years and the Senate every four. But how many times,
15 if you want to pick up one of the Senate journals, have we
16 in the Senate had to amend House bills and vice versa,
17 Commissioner Mills, where we made obvious mistakes here,
18 send it down there, a good staff analyst down there shows
19 that we did make a mistake, they correct it and send it
20 back? Who is going to correct the unicameral? Well, you
21 say the Governor will veto it. I don't know if you have
22 ever handled vetoes but that is a mess because your law is
23 held in abeyance until it can be handled, it is just a
24 mess. This is a very healthy working system and it should
1 We get -- I have seen battles in the Senate here and
2 in the House where in the heat of the battle you make a
3 lot of votes because you want to win, whatever winning is.
4 We used to say we would be in one of the rooms discussing
5 something and somebody would say, What was it last year
6 that we were all uptight about? We don't even remember.
7 But at the time it was live or die to win that particular
8 issue. And then when it cools off you say, Golly, what
9 was all that about? And that really doesn't make any
11 And something else, I plead guilty to not going to
12 all of the public hearings. My good friend Frank went to
13 all of them. Did anyone ask for this?
14 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Yes.
15 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: I never heard it besides you,
16 Commissioner Evans.
17 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: It was a public proposal,
18 if I might answer that. We had ten commissioners here
19 vote for it as well. So I don't know where you were.
20 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Where was it proposed?
21 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: It was proposed -- it was
22 in Tampa, I think. I'm not even sure where.
23 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: I was at that one.
24 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Well, it was at one that
25 you didn't attend. And it is in the book and you can look
1 it up, but they did propose it and Commissioner Sundberg
2 and I sponsored it and we did have the ten votes. So it
3 is legitimately here.
4 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: It's legitimately here but I
5 certainly haven't heard a public outcry for it. I think
6 people want more access to the Legislatures, this is going
7 to give them less. The cooling-off period, the
8 counterbalancing, the separation of the powers, the
9 competition, it's a healthy system. We don't always pass
10 what we want to pass up here. You don't always get what
11 you want to get. But we have sure saved the people of the
12 state of Florida a lot of agony by having two houses.
13 So I represent to you, it's not a good thing for the
14 people. It may be efficient, but efficiency isn't always
15 the best.
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Morsani as an
18 COMMISSIONER MORSANI: I rise with great trepidation
19 because of the people that have proposed this because I
20 have very, very mixed feelings, and I like to be
21 efficient. And all the things, and for the arguments --
22 and I think of the people that have -- that are
23 proponents, and I have a great deal of respect and
24 admiration for all of you.
25 But I would like to maybe make an argument from a
1 different point of view as I have thought about the
2 subject and as I've listened to the debate. First of all,
3 I did think that our good friend Mr. Langley, finally we
4 found out that confession is good for the soul. It is
5 good to know the egos that are here. And we appreciate
6 your candor about why you came here in the first place,
7 Commissioner Scott, and all. So we appreciate that
8 knowledge and I think that's valuable for us in our
11 COMMISSIONER MORSANI: I talk about the little signs
12 on the desk. I have one on the back of my desk that says,
13 Insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting
14 different results. So sometimes you think about what we
15 are doing here or think about our two legislative bodies,
16 we are kind of doing that to a degree. However, things
17 have changed dramatically. I think the people, and with
18 all due respect to you, former Congressmen, and there are
19 Senators and Legislators here, in times gone by -- and I
20 happen to be a resident now of Florida for only 41
21 years -- but when the pork choppers were ruling this
22 state, I mean, think about the terrible, I mean the
23 legislation we got prior to the one man, one vote in 1970,
24 it was really a terrible thing on this state.
25 So we have made tremendous progress in the last 20
1 years. It has changed dramatically the mix of the people
2 that come here representing the people of this state.
3 As Mr. Langley said, and I wrote down the
4 vindictiveness of leadership of this Legislature in years
5 gone by was absolutely disgusting. Everyone should have
6 been fired. If they worked for you, you would have fired
7 them for everything. And it was a terrible blight on the
8 citizens of this state, just the leadership in the House
9 and Senate in years gone by.
10 That's dramatically changed in the last 20 years.
11 Yes, I wish we could energize the people of our state with
12 a different view all the time. We can't do that in a
13 short time frame. Something of this magnitude has to have
14 a long time fuse on it to get a consensus. And that's how
15 legislation is made. You know, we look in Washington, and
16 even here, what is the purpose of the executive branch?
17 The purpose of the executive branch is to raise ideas,
18 propose ideas, then it is up to the Legislature -- it's
19 not working this way, by the way, but that is how it is
20 supposed to work -- but then the Legislature body is
21 supposed to debate and organize and then bring a bill
22 to -- for approval.
23 So we want to energize the people on something of
24 this magnitude, being of this Constitutional Revision
25 Commission. And I have always tried to be a visionary in
1 business and for this nation and been involved in many
2 aspects of international trade. I was one of the first
3 people in China, you-all don't know that, but I had a
4 trading company in Beijing when it was communist and you
5 couldn't go there, but some of us did because it was the
6 right thing do. It was the right thing to do to look
8 And I've tried to be a visionary and I want to be a
9 visionary for legislation. But I don't think that this is
10 truly in the best interests of our citizenry. I think the
11 quality of people that we have representing the people of
12 this state today, we are so fortunate, by and large we are
13 so fortunate, it is entirely different than the rest of
14 the nation.
15 We have the opportunity, that's what I've said about
16 Florida, that's what I say about the city that I am
17 privileged to live in Tampa, that we have the opportunity
18 to be in a state where any person can make their mark,
19 they can create things, they can be dynamic, they can make
20 change. And I think we can make change for the good of
21 our people with the system we have with the kinds of
22 people that we elect to come here.
23 So with all due respect to my dear friend,
24 Ms. Evans-Jones, I don't think that this is the right time
25 or the right place to make this kind of change on behalf
1 of the 14 million citizens of our state. Thank you.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Anthony --
3 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: -- as an opponent.
5 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I too
6 rise in opposition. And those of you that know me, know
7 that I am not afraid of change. I see myself in a lot of
8 ways as a change agent for our state, bringing in a
9 consciousness to public policy that I don't think existed
10 in years past.
11 I think that the existing system that we have really
12 provides an opportunity for Floridians to have
13 representation that really reflects their feelings and
14 concerns back at home. And I think that a unicameral
15 legislation would not present the inclusive opportunity
16 and the opportunity to be heard by people who represent
17 them that this system does.
18 I thought about this as soon as I read about it, and
19 I did hear from the public hearing, the proposal that was
20 brought forward. And what came to mind was that there
21 truly is a growing cynicism in our state and in our nation
22 about elected officials. There is a growing cynicism in
23 our nation about public policy figures, period. There is
24 a growing cynicism about those of us now who are appointed
25 to this Constitution Revision Commission.
1 As you all have recognized, those of you that are
2 private sector individuals and now on this Constitution
3 Revision Commission, you are no longer one of them, you
4 are one of those people on that Constitution Revision
5 Commission who we don't trust now.
6 So you are getting a feeling now, as Constitution
7 Revision Commission members, of the perspective that
8 one -- our nation's people have of elected government
9 officials. I stand before you and tell you that I trust
10 the people that we elect. I truly believe that they have
11 in their mind what is best for our nation and our state.
12 And I think that we do have in mind what is best for our
13 nation and for our state.
14 This representative democracy provides a checks and
15 balance's system that I truly think we need in this state.
16 I think it provides an opportunity for us to go to the
17 House members and propose something. And if it's not good
18 public policy, there is this checks-and-balance
19 organization of the Senate that will have that discussion
20 that would tug back and forth at that policy and move it
21 forward if it is good policy.
22 I think a unicameral Legislature is dangerous in our
23 state and it is not good as we approach the year 2000 and
24 the new millennium.
25 Leadership, is it leadership to move this forward?
1 Is it visionary for us to move this forward? That's a
2 word that I am very committed to, leadership and
3 decision-making. I think that if we truly are leaders,
4 and we truly have a vision for this state, let's make a
5 decision here and not move public policy forward that
6 truly we are not committed to.
7 One speaker that I heard last week, Dr. Warren
8 Bennice (phonetic), from the University of Southern
9 California, said that a true leader has a POV, and that's
10 a point of view. And they will fight hard for that point
11 of view. And Commissioner Evans-Jones has a strong point
12 of view about this, and so do many of us.
13 My point of view is, and I feel strongly about it,
14 that we should make a decision. We have heard from the
15 public. We have gone around this state and had public
16 hearings. Let us now take and be leaders and show our
17 point of view on this legislation and oppose it here this
18 morning. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Wetherington. And
20 then I'll get Commissioner Barkdull and then Commissioner
21 Mills and then Commissioner Mathis, in that order. If I
22 get out of order, call me again. Commissioner
23 Wetherington as an opponent.
24 COMMISSIONER WETHERINGTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
25 The framers of the United States Constitution were very
1 wise concerning the exercise of governmental power. They
2 were familiar with leading political theory in the west.
3 They were knowledgeable concerning the writings of Locke,
4 Duso, and Montesquieu. They were very practical people
5 and they produced a document that even today we revere as
6 embodying enormous wisdom including a practical
7 understanding of the nature of people and of the nature of
8 the power.
9 When they adopted the United States Constitution, a
10 very important principle concerning the distribution and
11 exercise of power, it was a principle that they adopted
12 from Montesquieu and that was the principle of separation
13 of powers. And they were aware of what could happen with
14 the arbitrary exercise of power because they lived through
15 it and we fought a revolution concerning what they viewed
16 as the arbitrary exercise of power. Their wisdom embodied
17 the concept that we would have the House and Senate.
18 By and large, I think the House and the Senate have
19 worked out very well over the years. I have heard no
20 suggestions that we should not have a House and a Senate.
21 And I think that the wisdom that they reflected with
22 respect to the United States Constitution did reflect the
23 wisdom of the ages and I think it's been borne out. And I
24 haven't seen anything that suggested that this wisdom has
25 now been obscured or transcended. Therefore, I think with
1 great respect to the proposer, that we should keep the
2 system that we have.
3 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Commissioner Barkdull
4 is next as an opponent.
5 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and
6 members of the commission. I will be brief. I want to
7 point out, number one, I've never been privileged to be a
8 member of the Legislature but I have had the opportunity
9 to observe it for a number of years. And I want to call
10 your attention to the fact that in the last 20 years as
11 Commissioner Morsani has mentioned, this Legislature, as
12 one branch of government here in Florida, has received
13 national recognition as one of the most outstanding
14 legislatures in the state, in all the states. And I don't
15 think there is any reason to tamper with one of the three
16 branches of government.
17 Now I realize that this was brought up at the public
18 hearings, but it certainly was not a major factor at the
19 public hearings. It was mentioned at several of them, it
20 did receive ten votes on this floor, and it has received
21 committee consideration, and it's receiving considerable
22 consideration this morning. And I think that we should
23 not defer because we think this needs more massaging. I
24 think we need to get on with the business of this
25 commission. You can see how long this debate has taken
1 this time. If we pass it because we think it ought to get
2 more consideration, it is going to come back here and take
3 a lot longer.
4 I want to close with only one thought. There were
5 times when I was up here as a -- representing clients, and
6 I didn't get what I wanted. I would have liked to have
7 had one house. But I was up here one time when I saw a
8 body in this two-bodied branch of government be stampeded.
9 And if it wasn't for the other body, we would have closed
10 the schools in the state of Florida because that
11 overwhelmingly passed in one of these houses, and it took
12 a lot of courage in the other house to stop it and I think
13 we should not tamper with that system.
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Mills as an
16 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, the first thing I
17 wanted to say as an opponent is that with my respect for
18 Commissioner Jennings and the members of this commission,
19 while I am personally convinced, and I'll tell you why I'm
20 convinced I'm going to vote against it, if the other
21 people on this commission are not convinced, I trust that
22 if they are not convinced yet, that would be fine. I hope
23 that those of us that believe it is a bad idea can be able
24 to convince you later. I respect your point of view if
25 you are not yet convinced. But let me tell you why I am
2 There are several principles we have talked about
3 that should be in the Constitution, and one of which is to
4 limit what government can do to citizens. I think it is
5 an indisputable fact that a unicameral Legislature will do
6 more. And I'm not sure it will be better. A bicameral
7 Legislature is inherently limiting. Another principle is
8 the centralization of power and we always remember the
9 quote, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
10 Having been a former presiding officer, along with
11 several of the others here, there is an enormous
12 centralization in the power of the presiding officer.
13 There are many times that I wished there had not been
14 another presiding officer, with all due respect to
15 Mr. Vogt who is on the wall. And there were probably
16 several times he wished that I wasn't on the other side of
17 the hall. But what happened was a reasoned debate between
18 varying points of view and I think it is indisputable that
19 Mr. Scott is right, that a unicameral Legislature will
20 pass more legislation.
21 The other principle I think is interesting is
22 stability. We, in our Constitution, need to provide
23 stability for our citizens. I truly believe a change in
24 leadership and a position this important, and I don't know
25 how often it would change and perhaps Commissioner Evans
1 can inform us of that, but if it changes every two, four,
2 or whatever years, I can guarantee you, you will have more
3 of a swing in policy than you would with a bicameral
4 Legislature simply because you have a division of
5 leadership in the legislative area.
6 And as has been said, the issue of turkeys, you would
7 have -- the press is correctly reported, we have lots of
8 bridges, lots of festivals, lots of art centers that the
9 public may not have needed, but we would had have more.
10 We would have more if it weren't for the conference
11 committee and we would have had more if it weren't for the
12 other body. And that's what we always refer to the Senate
13 as, the other body.
14 So I think that when you look back at why we are
15 here, constitutionally, there is a set of principles. And
16 that is, protect the citizen from government, limit the
17 centralization of power and to make sure that policy is
18 well reasoned and after having said all that, and endorsed
19 those principles, I think this is a well reasoned body.
20 And if you are not convinced, vote for this and give us
21 time to convince you. Because I think those principles
22 are fundamental to what should be in the Constitution.
23 And not that we have the best system in the world, I
24 certainly don't want to be quoted as saying dictatorship
25 is the best system in the world, Mr. Scott, but I know
1 that was in context. But that a bicameral Legislature
2 here has worked, doesn't mean I have always been satisfied
3 with the result, but this state is in pretty good shape as
4 we go around this state. This state is well run, well
5 governed, whether it is Republican leadership or
6 Democratic leadership, and we don't have much to be upset
7 about with this particular organizational principle. But
8 I intend to vote against it. But if you are not
9 convinced, vote for it and let us convince you.
10 COMMISSIONER EVANS: Yield for a question.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Evans, as an
12 opponent. Are you through? Excuse me.
13 COMMISSIONER MILLS: I'll yield for a question.
14 COMMISSIONER EVANS: A couple of comments were made
15 that I have a question about and not necessarily by you,
16 but one opponent said there is no reason to tamper with
17 one of the three branches of government and I know that
18 yesterday we did indeed tamper with one of the three
19 branches of government in a very significant way and the
20 battle cry of the proponents yesterday was let the people
22 So my question is, why is the battle cry let the
23 people decide appropriate to a major change in the
24 judicial branch but it is not appropriate to a major
25 change in the legislative branch? We're talking major
1 changes not just the -- it can be applied to everything
2 that comes before us but major changes as we had
4 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Well, I'll be glad to try to
5 address the question. But I would say it seems to me it
6 depends. We are here for major change and if you believe
7 this is a major change, this is a good thing. But I
8 forgot one -- our principle --
9 COMMISSIONER EVANS: Let the people decide question.
10 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Let the people decide. You let
11 the people decide. If your only organizing principle in
12 being here is let the people decide, then you would never
13 vote against any of them. If you are here -- we all
14 wanted to be on this commission, and I respect the members
15 of this commission as much or more than anybody or any
16 group I've been involved in, you're here for your
17 judgment. If your judgment is a bad idea, vote against
18 it. If your judgment is it's a good idea, vote for it.
19 But one other principle I have forgotten, that is elected
20 officials. Now, I've heard a lot of you be concerned
21 about the number of elected officials. And I think it is
22 indisputable, but this proposal reduces the number of
23 elected officials.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Opponents? To close -- wait a
25 minute. Excuse me, Commissioner Mathis.
1 COMMISSIONER MATHIS: Well, I don't know how to do
2 this. Do I ask -- since I am a proponent, do I ask for a
3 yield of the question to make a couple of points?
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, I'll tell you what we are
5 going to do. We are going the bend the rules and let you
6 speak on the closing along with the closer. Because I
7 think you should not unless somebody raises a point of
8 order, the way we have been doing it. I am going to quit
9 that. But you go ahead and have your say.
10 COMMISSIONER MATHIS: When the rules of the game are
11 clear and everybody plays by those same rules, all people
12 can survive and thrive. When African-Americans weren't
13 allowed to play basketball, you had a very different
14 sport. As soon as African-Americans were allowed to play
15 on the court, according to the rules that applied to
16 everyone else, they survived and thrived.
17 And what I see here are two different courts and two
18 simultaneous games. And I think that gives a lot of
19 hiding the ball, makes a lot of things unclear. I have
20 seen them let one house in the Legislature pass something,
21 knowing that it is going to the other house, and the other
22 house will take care of it. And that is political
23 gamesmanship, it is not governance for the state of
25 There is an accountability with a unicameral
1 Legislature that is not there with the bicameral
2 Legislature and I think a unicameral Legislature would be
3 more diverse and more inclusive. The Founding Fathers
4 where the reasoning was good, was just that. They were
5 Founding Fathers. They didn't address the issue of
6 slavery. They didn't address the issue of women
7 participating in government. But what we have found here,
8 that as we are allowed more diversity, we gain ideas and
9 strength and governance that is good for our state.
10 So I would say that the unicameral Legislature would
11 be better. It would have one game on one court and the
12 rules would be much clearer. The accountability that we
13 are looking at and the issues of separation of powers, I
14 think a lot of that is addressed between the three
15 branches of government, both the Legislature and executive
16 and judicial. But I think the Legislature tends to
17 believe that they are a law unto themselves. And with the
18 two houses they tend to hide things that they are doing.
19 And I also realize, and what I have heard from throughout
20 the state, is that we are dealing with a lot of issues
21 because the Legislature could not deal with them
23 So I stand here as a proponent of the unicameral
24 Legislature and would say, let's keep the ball on one
25 court so that we can move forward and focus on the issues
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS (904) 488-9675
1 and not political gamesmanship.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Anthony.
3 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: I rise for a question.
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Do you yield for Commission
6 COMMISSIONER MATHIS: Yes.
7 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Commissioner Mathis, with your
8 concern of inclusion and diversity, do you think electing
9 a smaller number of elected officials for a unicameral
10 Legislature will provide for the diversity of all of the
11 citizens in Florida?
12 COMMISSIONER MATHIS: Yes, I do. I do not think that
13 the diversity of our elected officials is based on the
14 number of elected officials. You have overlapping
15 districts in a number of districts throughout the state
16 with both the Senate and the House. I think if those
17 districts were clearly drawn by the apportionment
18 commission, or whatever body is looking at drawing those,
19 with a mind to the diversity of the state, that a smaller
20 number of legislators could, in fact, be much more
21 diverse, much more responsive than the bicameral
23 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: So, you are saying that our
24 state has come that far that we would look beyond some of
25 the things that you're concerned about to elected
1 diversity that we need in our state?
2 COMMISSIONER MATHIS: I think that -- I think that
3 our state will go further in the future with a unicameral
4 Legislature, yes.
5 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Thank you.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Mills.
7 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Could I ask him a question?
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Yes.
9 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Commission Anthony, I just
10 wanted to clarify where you are coming from. Would it
11 be -- it's your judgment that the result of this is, this
12 lower number, there would be fewer African-Americans that
13 would be likely to be elected to Legislature; is that
15 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Candidly, I'm very concerned
16 about African-American representation. But more so,
17 diversity generally. Our state is a very diverse state,
18 Hispanics, women, minorities, north Florida, south
19 Florida, people from Kentucky now are in the Senate, you
20 name it.
22 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: You know, that's to strengthen
23 the vitality of our state. And I think that's what we
24 really -- one of the benefits of our Legislature. And I
25 want to keep that vitality that people can come from
1 Kentucky and become President of the Senate.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Do you yield to Commissioner
3 Smith? Yes, he does.
4 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Yes, I do.
5 COMMISSIONER SMITH: Obviously, you know, you have
6 tweaked my interest with that concern. Let me ask you
7 this, do you believe that while a smaller number of
8 legislators may result in a smaller number of minorities,
9 it still could end up with the same percentage or larger
10 percentage, which still gives you the type of
11 representation you need.
12 So, in other words, you could have 2 -- 4 out of 40,
13 which is 10 percent, or 2 out of 20, which is still
14 10 percent. Do you concede that that is still a
15 possibility to have the same percentage or even a higher
16 percentage with a smaller number?
17 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Yeah, I stand before you
18 saying that diversity to me is just not about the numbers
19 and not about just racial issues, it is gender issues, it
20 is the diversity of our state, the fact that north Florida
21 Floridians are concerned, and their concerns are different
22 than south Florida Floridians, central Florida, I mean,
23 there is so many opportunities for environmental concerns
24 to be addressed, economic concerns to be addressed. And I
25 truly think that the more voices, and the more opportunity
1 that you have to have people to participate in the system,
2 the more opportunity that you have for real policy that
3 reflects our state.
4 And if you want to have a few people that may not
5 have the true concerns of the citizens broad enough to
6 really reflect the public policy that reflects the state,
7 I think you should support the unicameral. But if you
8 want the voices of Florida, the voices of the people of
9 Florida, to grab the microphone and have more opportunity
10 to talk and to be heard, you need more people. And that's
11 what the bicameral legislative process provides.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Are we still on opponents?
13 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Question of Commissioner
15 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: That is not my proposal,
16 you-all know that?
17 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I understand but you have the
18 floor and he is asking you to yield. Do you yield?
19 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Yes, I will yield.
20 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: The trick by which we do this
21 is ask you a question by saying, Commissioner Anthony
22 would you believe that?
23 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Okay.
25 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: What has happened in the
1 two-house Legislature -- I hate to call it the lower
2 house, but that's what we call it, the lower house, the
3 House of Representatives becomes a training ground because
4 there are more minorities there, they are like 17 to 20
5 over there, and there are more females over there. They
6 become the training ground for those people to later
7 become Senators.
8 At one time here we counted and there were only five
9 or six Senators who had not been in the House of
10 Representatives. So by keeping these two houses and the
11 larger house, you enable those people to come in, run in a
12 smaller district at much less expense and get the
13 experience and either move up in leadership there, or come
14 into the Senate where they are even more powerful, if you
15 want to say that, because they are in a less of a numbered
16 body. So that is always, sir, would you believe,
17 Commissioner Anthony, as a good training ground for higher
18 office and that office may also be a statewide office,
19 would it not, Mr. Anthony?
21 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Yes.
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Direct that question to
23 Commissioner Jennings.
24 COMMISSIONER ANTHONY: Let me say that I believe that
25 I believe that I agree with you on that fact. But, you
1 know, I don't really want this to really focus on just the
2 diversity issue, it really is not. That is one element of
4 The stronger element of it is the principle that each
5 Floridian should have someone that they can go to to
6 provide input to. And I could say to you that there is a
7 difference. And when you come up here to Tallahassee, I'm
8 not one that comes up here often, and don't care to come
9 up here often. But when I do come, I have a couple of
10 people that I can go to to carry the water for my
12 And I don't think that trying to get less people and
13 less voices in our government system is the answer to
14 creating public policy that reflects the needs of our
15 state. Let's not do something that sort of makes the
16 citizens feel as if we are taking something away from
17 them, and that is to elect people who could speak on their
18 behalf. The closer you are, the more that you, the more
19 people that feel as if they have a voice in our
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Thompson.
22 COMMISSIONER THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman, I did not ask
23 to speak as an opponent. And if that time has passed, so
24 be it. But if not --
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I'm kind of letting this go
1 freestyle here. I have already done that for the other
3 COMMISSIONER THOMPSON: I just want to take a minute.
4 I do chair the legislative committee for us here with our
5 commission and I wanted to kind of give you a feel for the
6 way I feel about this. And I guess the bottom line is
7 that, first of all, I agree with the proponents that this
8 is something that we ought to talk about and talk about in
9 detail, and I'm glad that we are doing that.
10 As a matter of fact, I don't remember any legislative
11 debate that I have ever witnessed that was this good. I
12 will just have to say it that way. I think everybody
13 studied the materials that have been available to them and
14 they have sincerely tried to come up with the best idea.
15 And I want to tell you, one of the things I have been
16 doing is sitting here listening. And Commissioner Morsani
17 a lot of times on one of our committees will say, I'd like
18 to hear what Commissioner Thompson has to say. And I
19 really appreciate that. What he doesn't realize is I'm
20 really listening to him in the same way.
21 Somebody that has not been in elected office,
22 somebody that's not been in the Legislature, because I was
23 in there 12 years, and I am certainly biased to some
24 extent, and I hope I always give you that disclaimer.
25 Mr. Brochin said the last time that this issue came up
1 that he would like to hear from some of us that have been
2 in the Legislature. And he has done some reading, and he
3 made up his mind now, and I wished he hadn't because I did
4 some reading too and I found out that Nebraska has got
5 about the same number of people as Jacksonville I think.
6 Let's see, it's less than 2 million. So does Orange
7 County have over 2 million people? Not quite. Well that
8 gives you a feel.
9 We have been talking about diversity here just a
10 little bit. What kind of diversity do you figure Nebraska
11 has got, Commissioner Barton? You may know a lot more
12 about that than I do but I bet it doesn't have the same
13 mix that we have in our state and how fortunate we are
14 because of that. And people want to come here and they
15 want to live out their lives here, and that is a wonderful
16 thing. But there are a lot of people here, and that
17 changes. When I first ran for the Legislature, each house
18 member represented 46,000 people. Now it took me six
19 counties to catch up with that many people and by the time
20 I was out, it took eight counties in north Florida to get
21 up to that many people. And now I think it takes ten or
23 So when you are talking about having just one house
24 and you're going to have 80 members, or whatever you are
25 going to have, you are really limiting the access of
1 people that are not going to have another member of the
2 Legislature they can contact. But they also are not going
3 to have a lower house that is going to be close to the
5 What is the reason for having two houses? Well, it
6 is no longer that one house represents people on a
7 geographical or political basis and one on population, it
8 is all based on population. But Chief Justice Warren, in
9 that opinion that had to do with the one man/one vote
10 concept, said that this doesn't indicate to anybody,
11 doesn't mean to indicate that anybody that is for that
12 bicameral legislation or legislators is wrong. There is
13 nothing wrong with that system. There are reasons for
14 that system. They can be and he enumerated some of them.
15 But a couple I remember, two that we have in Florida. One
16 is the length of times of your term. In Florida, of
17 course, we have two-year terms in the House and four-year
18 terms in the Senate.
19 And if you read some of the other literature and
20 political essays on the subject, they will tell you the
21 reason for that is to protect against the whimsical
22 majority. Now, Commissioner Barkdull talked about the
23 whimsical majority and some of these other members and
24 former members talked about the problem that you have when
25 something is real popular and the people have real access
1 to somebody and it could range all the way from the death
2 penalty to integration, segregation, school systems.
3 I mean, when the Legislature meets up here and does
4 something, folks, it is real. It is not just like us
5 talking about maybe the public is going to accept or
6 reject what we recommend. It becomes very real. And so
7 there needs to be some checks and balances.
8 Now, you also have in Florida something that I think
9 is going to impact our system. I believe I perceive it
10 doing that already. And we talked in our executive
11 committee about that yesterday and that is eight is
12 enough. When you walk into the door of wherever you work
13 tomorrow, you just think about whether or not you are
14 going to have to quit what you are doing in five or six
15 years. And for any legislator in Florida that's been
16 there for a few years now, they have got to be thinking
17 about what they are going to be doing.
18 You get in the House of Representatives people who
19 are, like I was, four and a half years out of law school,
20 as country as you can get, and still get a legal
21 education. As -- didn't know where Miami was. I walked
22 into the Florida Legislature knowing a lot about my
23 people -- by the time I was elected, they made sure of
24 that. But it took me a few years. And I'll be honest
25 with you, it took me a few years to learn what was going
1 on in government, what was going on in this huge and
2 dynamic and growing state.
3 And over a period of time, I learned that well
4 enough, and it probably took about seven or eight years to
5 be able to then make my way into the leadership and to
6 really impact some decisions.
7 If you have every member of a unicameral body now in
8 Florida that's going to be out in eight years, I don't
9 know where you are going to get these fresh approaches,
10 and that's just been mentioned, whether it is minorities
11 or whether it is anybody, there is a lot to learn.
12 I have seen people come to the Florida Legislature
13 from former members of the Board of Regents, from all
14 kinds of other local offices, big counties, small
15 counties, but there is a lot to learn about this state.
16 8,000 miles of coastline, the population is always within
17 10 miles of that coast. What is the structure of the
18 water management district, what about the basins within
19 the water management district. I mean, this is complex
20 information and you have got a lot to learn about it.
21 The other thing that I think that makes it very risky
22 for us to recommend this as a change to our public is
23 something that I think is going on in our system and
24 impacting our system at the present time also, and these
25 are changes from when I was there, and that is the
1 influence of the almighty dollar in campaigns in this
2 state. And I'm telling you, if something isn't done about
3 that, it is going to get worse and worse and worse until
4 we all get embarrassed by it.
5 But what's happening now is that the political
6 parties are coming to the legislators to help raise money
7 for the political parties who then go back and give money
8 to individual races so that the right team can be elected.
9 And I don't care whether you are a Democrat or a
10 Republican, that's too much influence for the Legislature
11 that I know and love. And if you single out one group of
12 people and have a unicameral body, with this kind of
13 influence where the members themselves are only going to
14 have eight-year tenures, then who is going to be running
15 the legislature? Who is going to be running the business
16 of the people of our state?
17 I submit to you that it is going to be the influences
18 of people that you never knew or were able to vote on.
19 And so for those reasons, I don't recommend this as a
20 risk. I think there is too much, as far as our precious,
21 natural resources, in the balance of what's going to
22 happen in the next two decades in Florida. I think there
23 is too much in the nature of the economy that we are going
24 to have to provide for the people that are moving to
25 Florida everyday. It is down from when Commissioner Mills
1 and I were here, from 1,000 a day to about 800 a day,
2 moving to Florida to live out the rest of their lives. I
3 stopped at a truck stop around Gainesville not long ago,
4 went in, these guys have got Chicago jackets on, they have
5 got a U-Haul truck out there. They are coming here to
6 live. They are getting out of where they are and they are
7 coming here to live.
8 And if we don't have a good, strong vibrant economy
9 and a good, clean government and structure of government
10 that allows for that, then I think we will have taken a
11 risk that we don't need to take. We know what we have
12 now. I think campaign finance reform is coming, I hope it
13 is. It is going to be probably a little later than
14 sooner; that will help us some. But we know what we have
15 now. It is a good checks-and balances'-system. And I
16 submit to you, for those reasons, as chairman of your
17 committee on the Legislature, and just generally
18 otherwise, I recommend to you that we do not vote
19 favorably on this proposal. Thank you.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Riley.
21 COMMISSIONER RILEY: I am continually impressed and
22 amazed at both the quality of the information that I get
23 and the fact that I think we listen to the people that
24 spoke to us when we opened in June and the Governors that
25 came and the past Representatives that came that said, get
1 out of the box, break your paradigm, don't be afraid to
2 look at things, don't be afraid to stand out and take a
3 chance. I also know that quantity is not quality, except
4 perhaps where chocolate is concerned, more is not better.
5 However, as a person from the Panhandle, as a
6 minority of the female gender, in addition to being a
7 Democrat in Okaloosa County, the idea of reducing the
8 number of representatives that I have in Tallahassee
9 bothers me, and therefore I have to, after listening to
10 excellent debate and being very impressed and being
11 swayed, I have to speak against this. I think in this
12 case, the more representation that I have in Tallahassee,
13 as a person who has not been on this floor before, as a
14 person who only goes to the offices and asks for votes,
15 and as a person that is not of the legal persuasion or
16 having been elected, I am much more comfortable with more.
17 I am very comfortable with the system that I see, that has
18 the two houses, that has the Senate that balances with the
20 And I see a balance there that in a unicameral
21 Legislature is lost and then you are dependent upon other
22 types of balances in the other parts of the government and
23 that concerns me. I don't think as we look towards the 20
24 years coming that we are asked to look for, in our debate
25 and in our proposals to the public, that we are better
1 served by less people representing us in Tallahassee. And
2 so therefore, I unfortunately -- and I apologize to
3 Commissioner Sundberg and Evans-Jones, but I would have to
4 speak against this.
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Smith, do you have
6 another question?
7 COMMISSIONER SMITH: No, I want to make a one-minute
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Very well.
10 COMMISSIONER SMITH: I can't wait to hear what those
11 who are opponents of this have to say when the issue of --
12 comes before us about the Cabinet and about how more is
13 better and how we need these checks and balances. And I
14 have taken the role, and I can't wait to hear that debate.
15 That's number one.
16 Number two, with regard to this issue, those of us
17 here who are not in the legislative process, we have got a
18 little bit of a warped view because amongst us are the
19 legislators now and before who are the best and the
20 brightest. I have been up here and I can tell you that
21 this is not representative of all of the legislators.
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You mean this body?
24 COMMISSIONER SMITH: No, those who serve with us who
25 are now legislators or who have been legislators, this is
1 not a fair representation. So those who are talking about
2 just how wonderful all these legislators are, I beg to
4 Secondly, I am not surprised, and this is not
5 personal, this is -- we are dealing with issues that those
6 of you who serve and have served think it is a wonderful
7 idea and give it a great report card. That is not
8 surprising at all. I would suggest to you that the report
9 card would not be quite as good in terms of what the
10 Legislature, as it presently exists, has done over the
11 last 10 or 20 years if the public -- those of us who have
12 not been involved in the process -- were grading the
13 report card. I ask you to vote yes.
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Commissioner Alfonso,
15 you are a proponent, I believe? You were the other day.
16 Have you changed your mind?
17 COMMISSIONER ALFONSO: That's correct, I'm still a
18 proponent. I have been listening to all of this as well
19 and it is a very difficult issue. And I'm really torn. I
20 am a proponent and am wanting to move forward with this.
21 I don't think the issue is one of size. And I am not
22 afraid of smaller government, unlike some folks here.
23 I think the issue is one of quality. And quality of
24 debate. And if you feel that the quality of the debate
25 and the efficiency of the knowledge of the people knowing
1 exactly who will be debating their issues for them and the
2 clarity, I know there is a lot of people in this state
3 that don't know who represents them up here, is it a
4 Representative, is it a Senator? Is that street in my
5 district or is it the other street?
6 This is now a chance, one time, to have clarity of
7 representation for the people. Now having said that, I'm
8 a proponent to go to the next level. But I think the
9 quality of the debate is an issue that is an important
10 issue here to me, to me anyway. And I speak as a
11 proponent at this time. And I think it is something that
12 we really need to continue the debate on.
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Ready to vote?
14 Another one? Okay. I've been letting all of the
15 opponents get up with the proponents. Now this is going
16 to be the last one, if we can make it. This is getting
17 long in the day.
18 COMMISSIONER SMITH: To close.
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Evans-Jones.
20 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
21 I want to thank everybody for their participation today.
22 I think it's been very, very interesting. I do want to
23 answer a few questions that have been raised here. You
24 are saying that really you think you'd have a bicameral
25 Legislature, and I'm saying you really don't. What you
1 have is a conference committee which is a unicameral
2 Legislature. You really only have about six or eight
3 people participating instead of many people. And frankly,
4 the people who make the decisions on all the most
5 important issues are your power brokers, of course. And
6 the rest of the people might as well go home and forget
7 it, it is really silly for them to even be here.
8 If you have a one-house Legislature, everybody
9 participates. The spotlight is on everybody. There is
10 nowhere to hide. People will know who their
11 Representative is. They will know whether they are good
12 in debate. They will know how they feel about the issues.
13 They don't know that now. People are so confused with
14 this process. And I think that if you have, say, 120
15 people debating all of the issues together in the same
16 room, you are going to come out with a better consensus
17 than you do with six people making the big decisions for
18 this state.
19 I ask you to think about this, the system is broken,
20 it is a big mess. Those of you who have been here
21 certainly know it. I can understand why any lobbyist
22 would be opposed to a unicameral Legislature. And the
23 reason is, because it would be much more difficult to hide
24 things than when the spotlight is on just a group of
25 people, period, and you don't have the football going back
1 and forth and being hidden.
2 I want you to consider that the people keep saying,
3 let's reduce the cost of government, let's reduce the
4 number of elected officials, and this would certainly do
5 this. This would give us an opportunity to be accountable
6 to the public, to give them an opportunity. They will
7 never have another chance. And I think it is extremely
8 important that we put this on the ballot and that we let
9 the people determine, yes, we can do better than we have
10 been doing, and let's give us an opportunity to
11 participate in an open -- and really in the sunshine. And
12 I'd like to yield to Commissioner Sundberg to finish
14 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: Thank you, Commissioner
15 Evans-Jones. Mr. Chairman --
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Wait a minute. Are you yielding
17 for a question, or are we going to have a double close?
18 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: We are going to have a double
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. I am going to allow that,
21 but we're going to have to limit this or we we're going to
22 be here all day. Go ahead, Commissioner Sundberg.
23 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
24 Three points. Lest those of us here who are not so
25 familiar with it think that this is an idea that was
1 original with the state of Nebraska, it is not of course.
2 It goes back to those barons that Senator Jennings spoke
3 about at Runnymede who got the concession from the king
4 and out of that arose the parliamentary system that we
5 have in the United Kingdom today and it has served them
6 rather well. It is a unicameral system for legislation.
7 Next, we hear that we don't -- you know, why are we
8 tampering with this? The hackneyed phrase that's used
9 time and again in government is, if it's not broke, don't
10 fix it. Well, I suggest to you that if this system is
11 working so well and is so well embraced by the people, why
12 is there this profound apathy and cynicism amongst the
13 people today with respect to the way their government is
14 operating? I suggest to you that that reflects that
15 something is amiss.
16 Lastly, as Commissioner Thompson says to you, there
17 is some risk in doing this. I suggest to you that
18 democracy is always a very risky business, but it serves
19 us well to pay attention to the people and to our
20 democracy and I urge that you support this proposal.
21 Thank you.
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay, are we ready to vote? Then
23 prepare to vote. Unlock the machine.
24 (Vote taken and recorded electronically.)
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Announce the vote.
1 READING CLERK: Fourteen yeas and 19 nays,
2 Mr. Chairman.
3 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So it fails. All right. We will
4 move on to the next subject. Where are we on the special
5 order, Commissioner Barkdull? Are we back to --
6 (Off-the-record comment by Commissioner Barkdull.)
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. Are we back now where we
8 can consider 70? Seventy of course is the one we've had
9 great difficulty getting to finality on here.
10 We are now handing you a packet or a little sheet
11 here, scorecard, road map, that will show you where we
12 think we are at the moment and then Commissioner Mills
13 will give us an expert explanation of where we are and we
14 will proceed to this issue and perhaps get to finality on
15 the vote. And I'm going to wait until -- everybody got
16 it? All right. Now, if you will listen to Commissioner
19 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, I believe --
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Just a minute. The
21 reason we had so much trouble with this is yesterday
22 afternoon we had no order for a while and we got off track
23 and we've had a hard time understanding this. I want to
24 ask everybody to please, if you can, wait and have your
25 remonstrances and whatever you are going to have about the
1 last vote until after we recess.
2 Now Commissioner Mills is going to make an effort to
3 explain where we are and let's see if we can't deal with
4 this a little more orderly than we did yesterday.
5 Commisisoner Mills.
6 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, I truly believe
7 this is a fairly straightforward question that we can get
8 to a vote relatively quickly on the ultimate matter. Our
9 extremely knowledgeable Secretary has put this together
10 and passed this out to you. And to explain what happened
11 yesterday, you had an amendment introduced by Commissioner
12 Planas. And what has now happened is there are two
13 amendments that Commissioner Hawkes offered yesterday
14 which we have corrected the record to show, are amendments
15 to the original proposal.
16 Senator Scott introduced an amendment to which
17 Commissioner Planas introduced a substitute. That was the
18 number of 500,000 for 400,000. That amendment passed.
19 So, for consideration purposes, I suspect the easiest
20 thing to do to sharpen the issue might be -- I know there
21 is -- will be a motion offered to reconsider the motion by
22 which Commissioner Planas' substitute for $500,000 passed.
23 If we take that up and dispose of it one way or the other,
24 then we would be back on my substitute, which is
25 noncontroversial, and then on the bill and people can vote
1 it up or down.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: As I understand it, we have the
3 motion to reconsider the Planas -- is this what you are
4 saying, if we have a motion to reconsider the Planas
5 amendment and we vote it up or down it becomes a part of
7 COMMISSIONER MILLS: It becomes a part of the main
8 bill. It changes the number 200,000 to 500,000, which is
9 where it is now because his passed.
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. So, in any event, we
11 need to vote first on whether or not we are going to vote
12 again on that. And there has been a motion to reconsider.
13 Wait a minute. Commissioner Sullivan, I want to hear from
14 him. He hasn't been in the debate yet. We are going to
15 get to him.
16 COMMISSIONER SULLIVAN: The one question is, in the
17 Planas amendment, is a residence a requirement still in
18 this or not in this?
19 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: No, the residency is out.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: In other words, looking at this
21 sheet, we are down on No. 4, right? Is that where we are?
22 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Yes.
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So if you vote to reconsider,
24 then we are going to vote on whether or not it is 500,000
25 or 200,000; it is that simple enough; is that correct?
1 COMMISSIONER MILLS: It is that simple.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All those in favor of
3 reconsidering and proceeding to a vote on this say aye.
5 (Verbal vote taken.)
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We will vote then.
7 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: Mr. Chairman.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Planas, it is your
9 amendment I think.
10 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: Can we get everybody that is
11 out there in the rest rooms and everybody voting here?
12 All of a sudden we have got an empty chamber, sir.
13 SECRETARY BLANTON: Quorum call. Quorum call. All
14 commissioners indicate your presence. All commissioners
15 indicate your presence. Quorum call.
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. Thirty-one members
17 present. We will come to order. Lock the machine.
18 Thirty-one members present. We have a quorum. And if
19 everybody will be seated, Commissioner Planas is first.
20 He has the floor.
21 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: Mr. Chairman, I just want to
22 explain exactly what we are voting on. A no vote will
23 keep the $500,000 limit. A no vote will keep the 500,000.
24 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: Mr. Chairman.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Marshall.
1 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: I rise to speak to that, too,
2 if I may. I believe the $500,000 limit is unreasonable.
3 It seems to me that $200,000 is an amount of money, which
4 invested in a residence, provides an adequate place to
5 live. In this discussion yesterday I noted the absence of
6 many, very much discussion at least, about the victims,
7 those who are left holding the bag when bankruptcy is
9 And it seems to me that we ought to give
10 consideration to those, not necessarily the mechanics
11 among us who might be able to afford to lose 6-, 8-, or
12 $10,000 but the small merchants up and down Main Street
13 who sold clothing and food and tires and batteries and so
14 on to people. And they deserve to be considered. I fail
15 to see why $200,000 is not enough for, to be protected
16 against creditors from people that go into bankruptcy.
17 And I believe you should consider seriously limiting the
18 figure to that, to that $200,000 figure, thank you.
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So you speak then for voting for
20 reconsideration. Because if you vote against it, it would
21 maintain the $500,000.
22 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: I do speak in favor of
23 reconsideration, yes, sir.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now Commissioner Sullivan.
25 COMMISSIONER SULLIVAN: I too feel that a $200,000
1 limit is an adequate amount. I think that if we are
2 serious about this kind of issue in our state and we want
3 to send a message to people about their responsibilities
4 to pay their debts and their obligations to their fellow
5 businesspeople and entities in the state that we need to
6 send that message.
7 There is, obviously, concerns about what to do with
8 people that have had judgments against them in tort or
9 whatever and maybe we could do with that in another place,
10 Commissioner Langley. And that would take great vision
11 and courage as well, I know that. But I really think it
12 is important that we get this across in the state that
13 people that come to this state know that come here to do
14 commerce and ring up debts that they are going to have an
16 And I do not think -- we have heard testimony on
17 this -- if you look at $200,000, it affects about
18 four-tenths of 1 percent of the population, but it
19 eliminates some of the injustices that do go on that a lot
20 of people in this room have had to deal with so long.
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I'm going to come to
22 a close, Commissioner Planas, because if you will wait, we
23 have some others that want to speak. Commissioner
24 Langley, you raised your hand; do you still want to speak?
25 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: I had a question or I could do
1 it briefly in comment. We keep almost exclusively using
2 the word "bankruptcy" here. These are not necessarily
3 bankruptcies. You may have a hardworking, honest couple
4 who are doing their best, they are paying their light
5 bill, and their home mortgage and their Outback bill and
6 all the other bills they have, but out of the blue their
7 teenage son turns the car over and breaks his football
8 buddy's neck on the way to practice and this couple has a
9 $5 million judgment against them. They are not bad
10 people, there are not defrauding customers -- creditors.
11 They are going about their life just like all of us do and
12 all of a sudden they are faced with a huge judgment
13 against them.
14 And today -- I have a friend who 10 years ago moved
15 out in the country and bought 40 acres of nice wooded
16 property and built a house. And that house probably when
17 he built it with the 40 acres, it was worth $250,000,
18 today there is exclusive subdivisions on three sides of
19 his 40 acres, and his land alone is worth over $1 million,
20 but that's home, that's where he lives, that's where he
21 has raised his kids, that's where he goes and comes from
22 work, that's home. You're going to take it for some
23 judgment creditor because his teenage son wrecked his car
24 or what have you.
25 Why do we just -- why do we just want to single
1 out -- this isn't going to help your little merchants,
2 Commissioner Marshall. The 200,000 -- I hope nobody owes
3 their clothing store that much or the gas station. I hope
4 nobody has run up that kind of credit. So let's protect
5 the homesteads. And the homesteads, and Senator Scott,
6 the poor guy isn't here, if you have ever run down to the
7 Gold Coast where Senator Scott lives, there are no houses
8 there you can touch for half a million dollars, but it's
9 home and that's what homestead is about.
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Commissioner Connor.
11 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: I'd like to inquire of
12 Commissioner Sullivan if he will yield for a question.
13 You mentioned the harm that befalls creditors by virtue of
14 the immunization of the homestead from levy. Isn't it
15 true that most creditors do not extend credit in reliance
16 on the homestead being security for the debt?
17 COMMISSIONER SULLIVAN: I'm not extending credit,
18 except at Outback. But I think that's correct,
19 Commissioner Connor. I think the issue, though, it
20 centers more on people that feel very comfortable coming
21 to our state and leaving people holding enormous amounts
22 of money that they generally owe that money to. And I
23 think that's a wrong message to send. I am opposed to
24 residency requirements on this issue but I do not feel
25 that a $200,000 limit is -- would cause any controversy
1 like Commissioner Zack pointed out yesterday in this
2 debate where he thought 1 million. I think the average
3 citizen in this state understands the magnitude of what
4 $200,000 is, and it is a large sum of money.
5 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I have
6 a couple of other inquiries, if I may.
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Go ahead.
8 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Would it be fair to say that,
9 to the extent that a creditor who wishes to secure the
10 extension of credit desires to use the homestead as a
11 basis for security, that that can be done?
12 COMMISSIONER SULLIVAN: I think in this particular
13 proposal, I do not see that the homestead will become the
14 security unless somebody is in a bank and they have got an
15 enormous amount of equity in a home and they are trying to
16 borrow money against that to get into business or for
17 whatever purpose. But I do not think that in general the
18 creditors would be looking at a homestead with a $200,000
19 cap on it as a major security for credit.
20 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Finally, if I may,
21 Mr. Chairman, what would befall -- strike that. What
22 would be the impact on people who have built up an equity
23 in their home, Floridians who have lived in Florida for
24 goodness only knows how long, what would be the impact on
25 Floridians who have built up equity in their homes, in
1 terms of their -- of the exposure of their homestead to
2 levy for debts which were involuntarily incurred, such as,
3 for example, their teenager is involved in an accident?
4 And I had a case in which a physician in this
5 community's son or child ran a stop sign, it caused a
6 terrible injury to another child, and I represented that
7 child who was injured and we were unable to levy on the
8 physician's home, even though it was of quite substantial
9 value. But what would happen to the equity that had been
10 built up by Floridians who have lived in their homes for
11 many years, who have faithfully paid the mortgage payment
12 or who are operating under the assumption that that
13 homestead equity is what would assure them of a home and a
14 place of shelter and a place of safety for the future,
15 regardless of whatever misfortunes might befall them from
16 an economic standpoint?
17 COMMISSIONER SULLIVAN: Obviously, that will be a
18 tragedy financially under the current statutes and the
19 current system if we made this change. I would hope that
20 judgments would start looking at things like people's
21 ability with insurance, et cetera, and people maybe taking
22 a more cautious approach to what they have, in terms of
23 insurance to cover those kinds of misfortunes in their
24 lives. I certainly do not want to see cases where these
25 kinds of things happen and people lose their homesteads,
1 and I would love to see a way to address that with this
2 issue. And I don't know how to do that though.
3 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Lowndes.
4 COMMISSIONER LOWNDES: Thank you. You know, I think
5 you have got to deal with this on the basis we are talking
6 about taking people's homes away from them and it is hard
7 for me to justify the proposition of taking some fella's
8 home away from him who loves it as much if he has a
9 $300,000 home as if he has a $200,000. I think what you
10 are really doing in a way is adopting a very populous
11 theory that it is okay to punish the people who have done
12 well in the world but it is not okay to punish the people
13 who haven't.
14 One of the things which occurs to me is, I have made
15 a lot of business decisions over the years in reliance on
16 the fact that I can take certain risks without risking my
17 home. In all likelihood, I wouldn't have taken those
18 risks if I knew that I was risking my home. And I think
19 that general philosophy helps the economy of this state.
20 I think as many people who have come to this state to hide
21 their assets, there are an awful lot of people that have
22 come to the state to bring capital to the state because
23 they know that the capital is protected in the state. My
24 sense about the matter is that if you -- the $500,000 is
25 better than the $200,000, but as a practical matter, what
1 you are really doing is you are, you know, punishing the
2 people who have been successful. And it seems to me that
3 we are headed the wrong way.
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Let me see if I understand your
5 position. On this particular matter, on reconsideration,
6 you are going to vote no because you are going for
7 500,000. But when we get to the main motion, you are
8 going to vote no because you are against it?
9 COMMISSIONER LOWNDES: That's right.
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. I understand. Now, who
11 else wants to be heard on this motion to reconsider?
12 Commissioner Mills.
13 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Just briefly to those last two
14 points, the issue Commissioner Connor raised, who will be
15 affected. Under the $500,000, it's four-tenths of
16 1 percent will be even related to the issue. And in terms
17 of your conversation about liability based on tort, if I
18 am killed by a drunk driver and my wife hires you to
19 represent her and you get her a verdict that will take
20 care of her for the rest of her life, I want you to be
21 able to levy on somebody that has a $2 million house. And
22 if you don't pass this, you won't be able to do that.
23 And with regards to the issue -- a $200,000 house you
24 can count on. I mean, all the people in this state that
25 are concerned about their investments, they can know that
1 that $200,000 house is protected. Those 4 percent that
2 are beyond that, they may be protected by Senator Scott in
3 the Senate within the next few years when they raise the
4 amount, but how about the mechanics and how about the
5 people that Commissioner Marshall talked about who have
6 worked hard and played by the rules and are owed money?
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So, you are against or for it?
8 COMMISSIONER MILLS: I am for the motion to
9 reconsider --
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Let's do this, if we can. I
11 don't want to cut you off, but Commissioner Planas can
12 close on the motion to reconsider and we can come back on
13 the main motion. We are getting now to debating the main
14 motion. And the only thing that's really before you is
15 the $500,000 versus $200,000. And if that's what you want
16 to speak to, fine. If not, let's wait until we get to the
18 COMMISSIONER BROCHIN: I have a question. On the
19 200,000 or the 500,000, is it equity that the homeowner
20 has or is it the value of the property?
21 No, there is a difference between the equity and the
22 value of the property. For example, if a homeowner has a
23 $200,000 home with a $180,000 mortgage, he has $20,000 of
24 equity. I read -- well the question still is, is it
25 equity that we are protecting at 200 or 500, or is it the
1 value of the home? I read it in the original proposal to
2 be equity, which would be a far different issue in terms
3 of value. Because most -- a lot of homeowners don't have
4 the equity but the home may be valued at more than
5 200,000. I think it is worthy of clarification.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Can anybody answer his question?
7 Okay. Commission Langley.
8 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: The Constitution says "value."
9 Now the would-be judgment of creditors say, Yeah, but if
10 they didn't have that much equity, we wouldn't go after
11 it. Well, you know, that's trusting somebody who's after
12 you. So I don't know whether you want to do that or not.
13 But it says "value." So if you had a $600,000 home and
14 owed 400,000 on it, you are not exempt. You know, there
15 is no protection there regardless of the lack of equity.
16 So they could take what you have and you still owe the
17 money on the mortgage by the way.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Freidin, do you want
19 to give a stab at that?
20 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: No, I want to ask a question.
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Commissioner Brochin,
22 did he answer your question?
23 COMMISSIONER BROCHIN: No, I don't think so. I
24 understood the distinction. I just don't know what the
25 amendment we are voting on is talking about. I know what
1 it says currently in the Constitution.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Go back to the
3 original motion which uses the word, the amount of value,
4 I think; isn't that correct?
5 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Point of order.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Yes, sir.
7 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: This is not on the motion to
8 reconsider the amount. This goes to the bill itself.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You mean the debate you are
10 talking about?
11 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Yes, sir.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I'll rule any
13 discussions out of order other than the issue on
14 reconsideration. The rules chairman is correct and that
15 is whether or not you want the 500,000 or leave it at
16 200,000 as it is -- beg your pardon?
17 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: All of this makes a
19 (Off-the-record comment.)
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We are at five. If you vote no,
21 it will stay at five. If you vote yes, then it will go
22 back for reconsideration. And then if you vote it down,
23 we will be back to 200,000, all right? Now everybody know
24 what, do you have to have -- do you have another question,
25 Commissioner Fredin?
1 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: I have a question, yes, sir.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You have the floor.
3 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Mr. Mills, as the proponent of
4 this proposal, this relates to the issue of 200,000 versus
5 500,000. As a practical matter, I'm trying to figure out
6 how this would work. If I had a judgment against me for
7 $1 million, and let's say it was 500,000, and my
8 understanding is if I owned a home that was worth
9 $600,000, somebody could foreclose on my home, force me to
10 sell my home and they would take the 100 -- the extra, the
11 $100,000 over and above the limit; is that correct?
12 COMMISSIONER MILLS: That's my understanding.
13 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: What happens to that other
14 $500,000 in cash that I have gotten out of the sale of the
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I don't want to interrupt you,
17 but this goes directly to the point of order. This is on
18 the main motion. We are here solely on the issue of
19 reconsidering an amendment to the main motion and we will
20 discuss that when we get to the main motion.
21 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: With all due respect,
22 Mr. Chair, we have -- in order to know whether we want to
23 vote to reconsider, I think we have to understand what
24 this whole thing does.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You know, we are going to debate
1 that for another hour. I have ruled on the point of order
2 that any discussion other than on the motion to reconsider
3 is out of order. And that question is out of order at
4 this point. And we will now, let's proceed to vote on
5 whether or not we reconsider. We still have some other
6 debate on that if we vote to reconsider. Commissioner
7 Planas to close since it is his offer.
8 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: Commissioners, I'd like for you
9 to go back in time when our parents bought a home and all
10 of a sudden, you know, they bought a house that was worth,
11 in Miami, 30 years ago, it was probably worth $75,000.
12 During those 30 years they have been paying everything
13 very good, they have very good credit and so forth. And
14 all of a sudden that house, because of inflation and so
15 forth is valued at $400,000. All of a sudden this -- my
16 father -- my father had a business and he went out and got
17 and started a business, he was doing good but all of a
18 sudden inflation hit, business turned bad, and he had to
19 close the business so he declared himself in bankruptcy.
20 So now my mother has to, because of my father trying
21 to do business, all of a sudden she is without a home
22 because somebody said, Well, the law this time now will be
23 $200,000. So what happened if he would have died, he just
24 died? Then what's happened to the widows? What happened
25 to the elderly? This is a true story now.
1 My son was at Thanksgiving in Miami, and all of a
2 sudden -- he is 20 years old, he goes to school here at
3 Florida State -- and I was with him, and he came out with
4 a bunch of things from Burdines store. So I said, where
5 did you buy these things? He told me Burdines. With what
6 money? I don't have a credit card for you or anything
7 like that. He said, No. They went ahead in Burdines and
8 they insisted of me opening an account because they said
9 if I open an account at that time, I can buy as much
10 merchandise for $500 with a 10 percent discount. They
11 were forcing a 20-year old kid to open an account because
12 they were going to get an extra 10 percent.
13 How many of you have received lately, because this
14 looks like a check, I was discussing this with almost
15 everybody, it looks like a check. You got -- if you want
16 to you can borrow up to -- it says Carlos Planas $150,000.
17 It is a check and it is signed and everything, it looks
18 good and it was from a mortgage company. And they said,
19 since you have equity in your home, now you are going to
20 receive $150,000.
21 Everyday in our lives, everyday in our lives, we are
22 hit very hard for opening accounts, getting credit and so
23 forth. Let me tell you what's happened to the creditors,
24 because it happened to me again last week, I was telling
25 you that. I have the opportunity when I open an account
1 with somebody, I have the opportunity and all creditors
2 have the opportunity of going out and saying, Okay, give
3 me your personal guarantee, sign me a lien against your
4 home, sign me a lien against your business, they have all
5 the opportunities to recover all this money before they
6 issue credit.
7 Why are we going to jeopardize something that is so
8 important to the livelihood of everybody here in the state
9 of Florida? Yes, I know, and know it is a tremendous
10 impact that there is a lot of people coming from other
11 states and coming down to south Florida so they can
12 declare bankruptcy. But I don't think we can go ahead and
13 penalize the true residents of the state of Florida
14 because that's happening, and we should leave this issue
16 I recommend for you guys to keep the 500,000. Thank
17 you, Mr. Chairman.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Everybody be prepared
19 to vote, let's vote. This is the motion to reconsider.
20 (Vote taken and recorded electronically.)
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Lock the machine and announce the
23 READING CLERK: Eleven yeas, 19 nays, Mr. Chairman.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. The motion to
25 reconsider fails. We now, I think, go on this page.
1 (Off-the-record comment.)
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now, on your page, we're going to
3 the substitute amendment by Commissioner Mills. On
4 Page 2, Lines 16 to 17, deletes language relating to the
5 median value. That's what's pending at the moment.
6 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Mr. Chairman?
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Barkdull.
8 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: It's a housekeeping motion.
9 I move that we extend the time for the session this
10 morning until 12:30 or the conclusion of this matter,
11 whichever becomes last and then we will back up the
12 committee meetings one half hour except the committee on
13 rules which is scheduled to meet at 5:00, that will stay
14 at 5:00. The rest of them will back up from 1:00 to 1:30.
15 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Without objection, we
16 will extend the time for 30 minutes and extend the time
17 for the meeting of the committees 30 minutes later.
18 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: That's not exactly the
19 motion, if that's what the Chair wished. The motion was
20 until we conclude this matter or 12:30.
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Until we conclude
22 this matter which we are going to do by 12:30. Okay.
23 Commissioner Mills.
24 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, I think that at
25 this point, this provision should be noncontroversial.
1 This allows you to raise it above $500,000. And at that
2 point, I suspect we might as well just go ahead and vote
3 on the bill and you can have -- I don't think -- I think
4 we've had significant debate on it.
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, we have got to vote on your
6 amendment which leaves it up to what now?
7 COMMISSIONER MILLS: It accords the Legislature the
8 authority to raise the figure which is now 500,000.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: But not lower it?
10 COMMISSIONER MILLS: But not lower it.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. All in favor of the
12 substitute amendment say aye. All opposed?
13 (Verbal vote taken.)
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It carries. Substitute amendment
15 is adopted.
16 All right. Now we go, we have adopted already
17 Amendment No. 3 and Amendment No. 4. We are now on the
18 main motion as amended by these various amendments. I
19 don't know how anybody could read it at this point. The
20 issues of what we have been discussing, Commissioner
21 Mills, it is your proposal.
22 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Correct. I think it has been
23 thoroughly explained at this time. And if there is some
24 clarifications, I'd be glad to try to make them. But it
25 is now at $500,000 legislative discretion, which when this
1 ultimately comes back before the commission, I'm not sure
2 if it sends the right message. I may end up voting
3 against it myself. But at this point, it seems to me, we
4 ought to -- I will vote for it to keep the concept that we
5 have been talking about alive which is to say we want to
6 be responsible about how we deal with creditors. And I
7 would hope those people who endorse this amendment, having
8 it now passed, would vote for this provision.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I want to correct one thing here
10 that's been said many times in these debates, these -- you
11 are supposed to vote on these not to keep them alive. You
12 are supposed to vote on these as to whether or not you
13 think they ought to be in the Constitution. Because when
14 we get to the end, we are not going to sit around and redo
15 this. The style and drafting is going to have to spend a
16 lot of time on everything you do and then you are going to
17 come and start all over again. That's not the purpose of
18 the rules.
19 And those that keep saying, Well, let's keep it alive
20 and drag it out and then we will kill it, that's not the
21 purpose of these rules. And, Commissioner Mills, since I
22 had planned to name you chairman of style and drafting,
23 you should know that better than anybody in the room. And
24 I said "had planned." I'm going to have to discuss it
25 with you at lunch.
1 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Does that mean I should vote no
2 on this, Mr. Chairman?
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I don't care how you vote on it,
5 you vote your conscience on it but I'm tired of hearing
6 this, Well, let's just put it up there and run it by as a
7 trial balloon. That is not the purpose of the rules. You
8 are supposed to vote yes or no on whether or not you want
9 these submitted in the Constitution. And then when we get
10 to the end after the style and drafting, in their great
11 form, we will know whether or not we are going to put it
12 on the ballot at all or not.
13 Now, Commissioner Freidin, I have cut you off and I
14 apologize and you now have the floor.
15 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Your apology is accepted,
16 Mr. Chairman.
17 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Thank you, ma'am.
18 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Getting back to my question.
19 Mr. Zack, did you need to --
20 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Go ahead.
21 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Be seated, Mr. Zack.
23 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Did you want to be excused,
24 Mr. Zack?
25 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I want to know if you would yield
1 for a question.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: She hasn't said anything yet.
3 Commissioner Zack, you are out of order. You are going to
4 get to say something before he asks you to yield,
5 Commissioner Freidin.
7 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Here is my concern about all
8 this, and I would like for somebody to please explain this
9 to me. I favor the concept of not allowing people who
10 have a lot of money to come into this state, put a huge
11 amount of money into their homestead and then be protected
12 from creditors. I think that is a great idea. I want to
13 make sure that what is happening here, or what this
14 proposal does is that.
15 My concern -- but I also have a counterveiling
16 concern that I want everybody in this state who has saved,
17 at least now we have decided it is $500,000, you know, I
18 disagreed with that, but that's where we are right now. I
19 want to make sure that people who have worked hard to put
20 their money into a homestead are protected to some extent.
21 And I am not sure that the language here -- and I
22 guess this is a question not a comment, because I would
23 like the answer, is: Does the language here protect the
24 first now $500,000 that somebody has? I'm concerned that
25 under this proposal, there can be a forced sale and then
1 the entire value of the homestead, not just anything over
2 $500,000, gets taken. That's my concern. My question is,
3 how does it work?
4 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Well, it's my understanding, it
5 protects the $500,000 in value.
6 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Where does it say that?
7 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Well, it says to the extent of
8 now $500,000 in value if located outside the municipality.
9 That was my understanding of the intent, that's my intent,
10 if that's not what it does, then I'll be glad to change
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I have got Commissioner Zack over
13 here that I had to chastise. I will un-chastise him and
14 recognize him.
15 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Well, I knew Ms. Freidin's
16 question and I ask you if this may solve the problem that
17 Ms. Freidin has addressed, and that has been addressed by
18 a number of proponents as well as Mr. Sullivan who said he
19 just didn't know how to solve the problem, I think we have
20 been focusing on the wrong part of this proposal. If
21 everybody would turn in the proposal, which is Proposal
22 No. 70 as you know, and look at the fact that there are
23 two paragraphs in this proposal, Paragraph D and Paragraph
24 E. All we have been talking about is Paragraph D. And D
25 is an amount. The amount, I suggest, is an irrelevant
1 amount based on the concern that is expressed by
2 Ms. Freidin and was expressed by Commissioner Sullivan and
3 a number of other people.
4 And the concern is a very valid concern and is one
5 that I think troubles every person in this chamber because
6 I can't imagine anyone in this chamber who would feel
7 comfortable with someone who came into the state of
8 Florida with a $10 million judgment against them for
9 killing their next-door neighbor and putting all of that
10 money into a house and having that money protected and
11 that innocent family of that next-door neighbor being
12 unable to collect. That is something that offends our
13 sense of fairness and logic, and I doubt that there is
14 anyone in this room who would not be offended by that
16 What you would have if we passed E and did not have
17 any value, number set to D, is the following scenario, as
18 Commissioner Lowndes had talked about, a person in a
19 2 million house, or $5 million house, or
20 Commissioner Planas' example of a person in Miami whose,
21 because of inflation, house had gone up and just happened
22 to live on the water and the price had gone up. We have
23 seen that, I have seen $30,000 houses in 1960 be worth
24 over $1 million.
25 So the number is not the concern, the fact is that
1 when people honestly and legitimately buy a homestead, as
2 suggested by Commissioner Lowndes, and live in that
3 homestead, raise their children in that homestead, make
4 their business decisions based on the protection of that
5 homestead, that homestead, regardless of the amount,
6 should be protected.
7 But what should not be allowed to occur is that
8 somebody who has a homestead and has a situation like
9 Commissioner Connor has mentioned, all of a sudden sells
10 their business and decides that they are going to put the
11 $2 million that previously could have been attached to
12 satisfy a judgment, as Mr. Connor described, all of a
13 sudden into their house, only to defraud creditors, that
14 should not be allowed.
15 And frankly, if we pass E alone, all the concerns,
16 the rightful concerns of people here to avoid an abuse and
17 manipulation of our judicial system will be accomplished
18 on the one hand. And on the other hand, you protect the
19 homesteads of people who have lived in them, have worked
20 for them, have relied on them, and have reason to have
21 those homesteads protected. So I'm suggesting that this
22 is one of the rare opportunities that actually we can do
23 what everybody in this chamber believes should be done.
24 (Off-the-record comment.)
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, your microphone is off.
1 COMMISSIONER ZACK: That's when I do my best work.
2 Would we bifurcate D and E as a substitute amendment and
3 be able to, in effect, pass E and then vote down D? How
4 would we proceed if we wished to do that, Mr. Chairman?
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I think I ruled that out of
7 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Pardon me? It's a parliamentary
8 inquiry solely.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: If you are going to do anything,
10 you prepare an amendment in writing and lay it on the
11 table, otherwise we're going to --
12 COMMISSIONER ZACK: We will be back in a moment,
13 Mr. Chairman.
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I hope you do better
15 than we've been doing. All right. Who wants to debate?
16 COMMISSIONER EVANS: Yield to a question.
17 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Evans. Commissioner
18 Brochin, I see you.
19 COMMISSIONER EVANS: Question of Commissioner Zack, I
20 need you. Commissioner Zack, on this issue of defrauding
21 creditors, how does that play into the current status of
22 the law that you can plan bankruptcy proceedings? You are
23 allowed to plan without necessarily being fraudulent? How
24 does this interplay with your language?
25 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I'm not a bankruptcy lawyer, but
1 what it will say, after we get through drafting it, is
2 that if it's done with the --
3 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Point of order. Point of
4 order. There is nothing before the body at this time on
5 this subject.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. Until there is an
7 amendment, that's not a proper inquiry.
8 COMMISSIONER EVANS: I mean, it is already there --
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Not what you are talking about
10 because he is fixing to file an amendment that is going to
11 change it. Then that will be a proper inquiry to make at
12 that point.
13 COMMISSIONER EVANS: I see it written in mine.
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It is out of order. Commissioner
16 COMMISSIONER BROCHIN: I'm not sure if this is a
17 question or a debate. And the reason I'm not sure is the
18 reason I tried to get at earlier, trying to distinguish
19 between equity and value. If, as I understand it, we are
20 voting based on the value of the property, this is a very
21 bad idea. The value of the property should be, in my
22 opinion, irrelevant to what you are trying to get at here.
23 And what you are trying to get at is people who take
24 equity and load it into their house to high numbers to
25 protect themselves from creditors executing on their home.
1 The counterveiling policy is to not throw anybody out
2 of their home. So what you try to do with the $500 equity
3 limit is to say if you put $500,000 in the home, that will
4 be protected, and it won't be executed upon, or 200,000,
5 which would have also been an appropriate level. But if
6 you are talking about the value of the home, it is
8 I'll give you an example. If you own a million
9 dollars home that is valued at $1 million, but you only
10 have $100,000 of equity; that is you owe $900,000 to the
11 mortgagee, under this proposal, you could execute on the
12 home. $900,000 would go to the creditor -- the mortgagee,
13 and $100,000 would go to pay off the would-be creditor and
14 you have not really protected that homestead.
15 So I'm assuming, because no one is correcting me,
16 that we are voting on the value of the property. And
17 such, this is a very bad idea and I'm going to vote
18 against it.
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I think you are correct. If
20 everybody would read the actual thing here, I think we
21 might eliminate some of the confusion. The pertinent
22 portion of this says that a homestead to the extent of now
23 $500,000 in value is exempt from forced sale. And then it
24 comes down and says the Legislature may, by general law,
25 raise the value limitation of the homestead exemption
1 granted in Paragraph A1 based on changes in the median
2 just value of the Florida homestead properties for
3 purposes -- and that was taken out. For purpose of this
4 section, the value of the homestead property is the just
5 value as reflected in the records of the county property
7 Then the next paragraph, E, the one which he is
8 seeking to eliminate, if he ever gets it here, it says the
9 homestead exemption in this section does not apply to any
10 property to the extent that it is acquired or improved or
11 its equity value increased with the intent to defraud
12 creditors. The Legislature may, by general law, implement
13 this section.
14 So your question, Commissioner Brochin, is it does
15 relate to value. And the issue of whether or not you can
16 go ahead, even if it's otherwise, would be this fraud
17 provision that's in the -- that the Legislature could
19 So it does relate to the value of the property. And
20 the question that everybody has asked, if you read this,
21 says if you have a $500,000 appraised value on the
22 property rolls, they can levy on it regardless. They may
23 not get much out of it, but they can levy on it. If you
24 create it by equity in the manner you described, if you
25 did it by fraud, the Legislature could provide you could
1 take that.
2 And that's the way it reads now and I think the
3 sponsor will agree that that's the proper interpretation
4 as it exists.
5 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, I think that's
6 correct. But my understanding, if I understand your
7 question, it now becomes really only relevant above
8 $500,000, but it is relevant. And I think, after having
9 done this for two days, this really was not my entire
10 purpose of serving on the Constitution Revision
11 Commission, as a footnote.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You ought to be able to get a
13 loan now.
15 COMMISSIONER MILLS: I'm not sure. I think if
16 placing the term "equity" in there solves the problem
17 above $500,000, then let's do that. But I think -- I
18 understand below 500,000 there is no problem. If you now
19 have a million-dollar home, everybody in here raise their
20 hands -- no. If you have a million-dollar home, you will
21 be at risk to the extent that your equity was at risk
22 above that $500,000 amount or -- so --
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Nabors.
24 COMMISSIONER NABORS: Let me ask the sponsor a
25 question. I think if you follow this through, you have
1 got to use the concept equity, not value. As soon as you
2 start putting in a dollar amount, let's give an example.
3 If you own a house that's worth $500,000 free and clear,
4 own a house that's worth $500,000 with a $400,000
5 mortgage, if you use value, both of those are protected.
6 But you protect 500,000 of your assets and only protect
7 100,000 of mine. So you've got to use equity if you are
8 going to do that.
9 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Commissioner Nabors is right as
10 he always is.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So what he is saying if I come
12 down here from New York and put $2 million cash into a
13 home, where does that leave it? Then I could be levied on
15 COMMISSIONER MILLS: You could be levied on
16 1.5 million --
17 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: What if I come down here and put
18 $2 million in a mortgage on it?
19 COMMISSIONER NABORS: The point is that currently the
20 homestead is protected in value -- the homestead is
21 protected as a homestead. So now, we're trying to protect
22 some of the homestead but not all of it. So it has to be
23 equity. We can't worry about what someone from New York
24 would do.
25 But the problem is, you are treating people unequally
1 in terms of the equal protection because you would have a
2 situation where one individual, if it is a $400,000 house,
3 could be protected to $400,000 and another one to $10,000.
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I think that's what Commissioner
5 Mills agrees with you.
6 COMMISSIONER MILLS: Mr. Chairman, I apologize to the
7 commission for this taking this long. It was certainly
8 not my intention that we would spend half as long on this
9 as we did on a unicameral Legislature. I guess if we
10 introduce the term "equity," it at least does what I think
11 the intention of those who support this have in mind,
12 which if Commissioner Brochin wants to introduce that, I
13 would certainly accept that as a friendly amendment. It
14 then puts us on the proposal as a whole and you cannot
15 vote it up or down.
16 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. I know we don't call
17 questions, but I have a feeling from listening and
18 watching and those that have left and haven't come back,
19 that everybody is really ready to weigh in on whether or
20 not they want to mess with the homestead exception at all.
21 And that may be what we wind up voting on here,
22 Commissioner Mills. And so if everybody is ready to vote.
23 Commissioner Connor has a question.
24 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Yes, I have a point of inquiry
25 of the Chair. We have a proposed amendment that I think
1 will assuage the concerns of a number of folks that have
2 been expressed thus far. I'm not sure what the status of
3 it is or how it would be affected --
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Do you have your
6 COMMISSIONER ZACK: It is being put on the desk any
7 moment now.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. We will stand down
9 until we get the amendment or stand up.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Come to order. Commissioner Zack
12 has an amendment on the table now which you need to
13 consider -- first of all, let me apologize to Commissioner
14 Zack. I didn't know he had an amendment that did what it
15 does. I thought he was just fine-tuning it. But he has
16 an amendment which goes to the heart of this issue. So I
17 think all of us better consider this because his amendment
18 eliminates most of what we just did.
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We have it now. Commissioner
21 Zack, you are recognized to explain your amendment that
22 you are moving.
23 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: First of all, we will let -- I
25 think we can actually read this one. This one is typed.
1 I am going to ask the clerk to read the amendment if you
2 can. I think what he says is strike everything but what
3 he has amended.
4 READING CLERK: By Commissioners Connor and Zack. On
5 Page 1, Line 23, through Page 2, Line 24, delete those
6 lines and insert a lengthy amendment, Mr. Chairman.
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Go ahead and read it. Just read
8 the paragraph. He deleted all of that and added this
9 amendment for Paragraph 3. This will become new paragraph
10 3, or revised Paragraph 3. All of the rest of it will
11 remain the same as it is in the present Constitution.
12 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Mr. Chairman, let us get
13 copies of this one.
14 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: They are being passed out. I
15 can't pass them out any quicker.
16 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Everything is gone. It's just as
17 it was, there are no limits. It's just as it was. There
18 are no changes whatsoever in the existing homestead law --
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well he has got to read it.
20 COMMISSIONER ZACK: -- with the following exception.
21 READING CLERK: Paragraph 3, the homestead exemption
22 in this section does not apply to any property to the
23 extent that it is acquired with the intent to defraud
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now, you are recognized,
1 Commissioner Zack, to explain what you are proposing.
2 COMMISSIONER ZACK: What that does is leave the
3 present homestead law intact with the following language
4 as the only change, which is No. 3, which you see on
5 Page 2, Lines 5 through 7. And what has happened,
6 frankly, this amendment is necessary because of a number
7 of cases that have come out of the Florida Supreme Court
8 that basically say that, no matter what the reason, if the
9 money is ultimately put into the homestead, it is
11 What you can have, of course, I'll take Mr. Connor's
12 example because I think it is a good example, that you
13 have a physician whose son or member of the family rolls
14 over a car, passenger is hurt or a quadriplegic which you
15 can say has a potential of $10,000,00 plus verdict. And
16 that physician lives in a million-dollar house and has
17 lived in that house for a dozen years. That house would
18 be protected.
19 However, if he or she has $5 million in stocks, today
20 they could sell those stocks and buy a new homestead for
21 $6 million and the whole amount would be protected. That
22 wasn't the intent of the homestead laws. It wasn't
23 intended to be able to shield and manipulate the justice
24 system. What this will do is allow people who buy houses
25 and pay for houses and live in houses, regardless of the
1 amount, so that everyone is treated equally, they are
2 protected. But anybody who tries to gain the system,
3 defraud the system, abuse the system by using their
4 homestead to shield otherwise underprotected assets, will
5 not be allowed to do it.
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. And you move then the
7 adoption of the amendment? Commissioner Planas.
8 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: Question.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Question from Commissioner
11 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: If I have a business and --
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Turn the mike on.
13 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: If I have a business and all of
14 a sudden I have good equity in my homestead and I borrow
15 400,000 against it, just to continue my business, and all
16 of a sudden about six months later, the business fails and
17 I go bankrupt, would that be considered fraud?
18 COMMISSIONER ZACK: It wouldn't under my
19 understanding of the proposal because you had no intent to
20 defraud. You are validly borrowing monies which you had
21 an equity position in your house to do. You had no
22 pending lawsuit against you and there is no reason to
23 assume there was any intent to defraud.
24 COMMISSIONER PLANAS: And I will not have to prove
25 such a thing?
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Commissioner
3 COMMISSIONER WETHERINGTON: Just testing your intent
4 here. The concept I think is a good one, but let's say
5 that I am paying a mortgage on my house, I have a
6 business, things get bad. I have a choice to make. The
7 choice would be whether I continue to pay my house
8 payments and keep my house up, improvements on my house,
9 or whether I pay off business creditors. I elect to keep
10 paying on my house, to keep trying to make my mortgage
11 payments instead of paying my business creditors.
12 The business creditors come in and they say that's a
13 fraud on them because I knew that I had some business
14 problems out here that they might sue me on. Instead of
15 taking the money and paying it over to them, I took the
16 money and I put it in my house and therefore they want to
17 come and say I've committed a fraud. Would that
18 constitute a fraud within the meaning of your proposal?
19 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I was very concerned about that
20 specific question. As a matter of fact, Mr. Hawkes and I
21 chatted about that and that's why the words "delay" and
22 "hinder" were stricken and intent to defraud was used
23 exclusively. And under my understanding, is there would
24 be no intent to defraud paying a normal house payment,
25 which you have paid over all the years, I suggest to you
1 there could be no intent to defraud under that scenario.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Zack, didn't you
3 also insert that it is acquired with intent to defraud?
4 In other words, at the time you acquired it, you would
5 have the intent to defraud?
6 COMMISSIONER ZACK: That's correct. That is an
7 additional protection.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. Commissioner Freidin.
9 COMMISSIONER ZACK: We added the word "intent" to
10 defraud as opposed to defraud.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Correct. Commissioner Freidin.
12 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: I wanted to ask a question
13 with regard to your use of the word "acquired." Supposing
14 that there was a judgment against a homeowner, the home is
15 valued and there is an equity of $200,000. There is a
16 lawsuit -- let's say we haven't gotten to the judgment
17 stage yet -- there is a lawsuit against that homeowner and
18 the owner of the home says, I have a lawsuit coming. I am
19 going to build a new million-dollar wing on my home, I'm
20 going to sell all of my stocks. So my concern is with the
21 word "acquired," should it not be "enhanced" or something
22 of that nature? I don't how you would do it, but that is
23 my question.
24 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I will yield to Commissioner
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Hawkes.
2 COMMISSIONER HAWKES: I think "acquired" covers your
3 situation. I mean, let's use an example that might be a
4 little more realistic for many Floridians, maybe I have
5 $10,000 worth of stocks and I see that someone is going to
6 file a lawsuit against me and I want to shield my 10,000.
7 I take that 10,000 out of what would be attachable by my
8 creditor and I put it toward my house.
9 I think that what the amendment says is to any
10 property to the extent that it is acquired. So I think
11 that I have acquired equity in that property to the extent
12 of $10,000. If I have another $50,000 worth of equity in
13 the property, that's mine, that's legitimate. The 10,000
14 is what I intended to defraud my legitimate creditor with
15 and the 10,000, I believe, would be attachable but not the
16 50,000 that I had prior to moving equity into the home.
17 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Would it not be okay then to
18 substitute the word "equity" for "property" on the same
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Zack, you are being
22 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I think that's appropriate to
23 amend the property to equity.
24 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: You have equity in the
25 property. Maybe it should say any equity in the property
1 to the extent --
2 COMMISSIONER ZACK: See if it would resolve your
3 concerns. If the amendment would read as follows, The
4 homestead exception in this section does not apply to any
5 property to the extent that it is acquired or improved or
6 its equity value increased with the intend to defraud
8 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: That totally satisfies my
10 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Point of order. Not the
11 matter before the body. There's no substitute on the
12 desk, no amendment on the desk.
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Your point is well taken. If
14 you're going to make a substitute, somebody better make
16 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Would Mr. Connor agree to
17 substitute on that basis?
18 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: To the extent that it is
19 acquired or improved?
20 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Commissioner Kogan has the exact
21 language in front of him. Could you read it?
22 COMMISSIONER FREIDIN: Could you read it again?
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It is an amendment to the
24 amendment. We are starting back right where we were
25 yesterday afternoon. The only reason this has got to be
1 the most vexatious thing we've dealt with is it involves
2 money. I think everything else that involved concepts,
3 we've done very well. Commissioner Scott.
4 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Parliamentary inquiry here. I'm
5 afraid that what we are doing here is it's lunch time and
6 we are going to starve ourselves out of house and home.
7 Have you heard that saying?
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: I think this, if -- I'm almost
9 tempted to appoint a select committee. But I don't know
10 who I could select to rewrite this. I could take
11 Commissioner Freidin and Commissioner Brochin, I could
12 take ten of you, you-all go in a room and write this. We
13 can't write it on the floor. If you are going to have the
14 amendments and things, they have to be on the table.
16 COMMISSIONER ZACK: We have had the advantage of
17 having it done.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Is it on the table?
19 Do you have somebody moving an amendment to the amendment?
20 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: May I respond to Commissioner's
21 Zack's --
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, first of all, has anybody
23 moved the amendment to the amendment? Are you going to
24 move it, Commissioner Zack?
25 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Yes, I move it.
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now, wait a minute. It is moved.
2 Would you please read the amendment to the amendment?
3 READING CLERK: By Commissioner Zack on Page 2, Line
4 6, after "acquired" insert "or improved or its equity
5 value increased."
6 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: If I may.
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Now, Commissioner Zack, it is his
8 amendment to his amendment. Do you yield to Commissioner
9 Connor? Commissioner Conner.
10 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Earlier Commissioner Zack had
11 asked me if I would accept that amendment, and the answer
12 is no, for this simple reason, Mr. Chairman. I don't have
13 any difficulty with saying, to the extent it is acquired
14 for improved, indeed I would suggest that the way you
15 enhance the equity or value of your property is through
16 improvement. So I'm not -- I don't oppose the notion that
17 we would say the homestead exception in the section does
18 not apply to any property to the extent that it is
19 acquired or improved with the intent to defraud creditors.
20 I think that gets to the concern that has been raised
21 by Commissioner Freidin. It puts us in the position that,
22 A, we seek to protect the homestead, but we do not seek to
23 protect or shield those who either acquire a homestead or
24 improve the homestead with the intent of defrauding
25 creditors. I think we then balance the interests that are
1 intentioned in this regard.
2 But I would suggest that to include that additional
3 language is confusing. And frankly one of the role of our
4 courts is to adjust the equities of the people who are
5 contending about these issues. I think acquire or improve
6 is very clear, and I think the courts would not have
7 difficulty --
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: So you oppose the amendment to
9 the amendment?
10 COMMISSIONER CONNOR: Yes, sir.
11 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I think his point is very well
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Well, it may be, all right then.
14 All in favor -- then you can vote this down and file
15 another one.
16 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I will withdraw the amendment to
17 the amendment and substitute the language described by
18 Mr. Connor.
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We have to have another
21 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I withdraw the previous one after
22 listening to Mr. Connor's persuasive argument. Rules
23 Chairman, give me a point of order.
24 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: He can ask for a waiver of
25 the rules and withdraw the amendment without objection.
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, the amendment
2 is withdrawn. And now you are filing another amendment.
3 It's on the table.
4 COMMISSIONER ZACK: We're just deleting.
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: But it is on the table. Would
6 you let us read it in accordance with the rules? If you
7 can read the writing.
8 READING CLERK: By Commissioner Connor, on Page 2,
9 Line 6, after "acquired" insert "or improved."
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. That's the amendment,
11 you have heard it, the amendment to the amendment. And
12 Commissioner Nabors, you wanted to speak on that.
13 Commissioner Nabors.
14 COMMISSIONER NABORS: I have two quick questions.
15 Mr. Zack, would you believe that there is a lot of us that
16 feel that we have a limited number of proposals we can put
17 in front of the people and the lesser the number, the
18 better, would you believe that?
19 COMMISSIONER ZACK: Absolutely. I have said so.
20 COMMISSIONER NABORS: And then maybe this would even
21 make David Letterman's top 10 list, would you believe
23 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I've heard a lot of top 10 lists,
24 you have to tell me which one.
25 COMMISSIONER NABORS: Let me ask you a question. We
1 all read the same books as lawyers. Would you believe it
2 is my view that if you had, in fact, a fraudulent
3 conveyance, to defraud creditors of homestead, that that
4 could be set aside as a fraudulent conveyance because you
5 would look at the intent of the person conveying the
7 COMMISSIONER ZACK: I used to believe that, but you
8 have to read the current case law on that. And the
9 current case law very much leaves that question in doubt
10 and allows people to manipulate the system, which is the
11 reason for this amendment.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Anybody else want to
13 be heard on the amendment to the amendment, which has now
14 been read and? Reread. All right. Are you ready to vote
15 on the amendment? All in favor of the amendment say aye.
16 All opposed, no.
17 (Verbal vote taken.)
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. We will vote. This
19 is the amendment to the amendment, which is this last
20 language. Unlock the machine, we are going to vote.
21 (Vote taken and recorded electronically.)
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Everybody voted? Announce the
24 READING CLERK: 23 ayes, 7 nays, Mr. Chairman.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Now we go to the real
1 amendment which goes to the issue of what the final vote
2 is here and that is the part that he offered originally,
3 that the homestead exemption in this section does not
4 apply to any property to the extent that it is acquired or
5 improved with the intent to defraud creditors. We are
6 voting on that amendment which replaces all of the other
7 things that were on there, the 500,000 and all those
8 things we spent the time on. So that's what we are on at
9 the moment. And Commissioner Brochin is the first one up,
10 Commissioner Langley second one up. Commissioner Corr,
11 you're third.
12 COMMISSIONER BROCHIN: I'm speaking against this
13 proposal for three reasons. One is Florida has a long
14 tradition of protecting homestead homes and now you have
15 eliminated any floor whatsoever in terms of somebody's
16 home being taken away even if there is an intent to
17 defraud. You've struck the 500,000, you've now struck the
18 200,000 and you are going to put homeowners in a position
19 where they could be subjected to litigation on the issue
20 of whether or not there was an attempt to defraud
21 creditors which is circumstantial in almost all cases and
22 would subject homeowners no matter what the equity in the
23 home is to the home being taken.
24 Number two, I object to this because I think it opens
25 up an extraordinary amount of litigation and although my
1 partners back home may crucify me for this, I think
2 opening more litigation on this particular issue that goes
3 against our long-standing history here in Florida of
4 making a home sacrosanct is just the wrong thing to do.
5 And the third reason is what Commissioner Nabors
6 alluded to and I just don't believe this is a hands-on
7 priority for our Constitution to write intent issues on
8 fraud into the Constitution of the state. There are
9 fraudulent conveyance statutes. There are bankruptcy
10 statutes that deal with this. Creditors are not left
11 totally holding the bag in fraudulent issues. What they
12 are left with and the problem is, is when they stick
13 equity and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars
14 into a home, notwithstanding an intent to defraud, that's
15 what you should try to get at and that's what we started
16 to get at. But now you've gone full circle and totally
17 removed any floor whatsoever to taking somebody's home --
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You are against the amendment. I
19 want you to understand, we are solely on the amendment.
20 We are not on the concept at this point. We're on the
22 COMMISSIONER BROCHIN: I understood that the
23 amendment that Commissioner Zack offered struck everything
24 and only exempted it if there was an intent to defraud.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That's correct. But then once we
1 take that vote, then we have to vote on whether we want to
2 do it at all. Commissioner Langley.
3 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: You-all really look at this
4 amendment. You know, to be honest, I'm not going to vote
5 for this bill for several reasons. But if you look at
6 this amendment, you just threw every little mom and pop,
7 every homeowner in this state in the court against the big
8 law firms that represent all the major credit cards and
9 all the banks and everybody else, because as soon as
10 they've a judgment, and I don't care if it's $53.83, they
11 can go in and say that's defrauding because, you know, he
12 sold his 1984 Ford last week and he paid $1,000 on his
13 mortgage and therefore he has defrauded us.
14 And it is not fair to force the little people of this
15 state, Commissioner Planas, into court against big law
16 firms where they are going to have to go hire lawyers and
17 defend themselves or lose their home. This is the worst
18 we could possibly do the people of this state. There is
19 defense to this. There is no way that these poor
20 people -- I had a situation similar to Commissioner
21 Planas', when my son was a junior over at the University
22 of Florida, he turned 21 years of age and City Bank sent
23 him a credit card for $5,000 with a limit. Man, that's
24 great. He didn't ask dad for anything for awhile there,
25 you know.
1 And the next thing I heard, unfortunately he was a
2 junior, and I got sued. They forgot the junior on the
3 card, I got sued by City Bank for $5,500. I said, I've
4 never had a City Bank card. Well, it turned out, it was
5 Junior's. But they got a judgment against Junior. I
6 wasn't going to pay it for him. Let him learn that's not
7 real money, that's plastic.
8 So he learned that that wasn't real money and he had
9 a judgment against him. But then under this deal, had he
10 a home, they could come back if they renewed their
11 judgment 21 years later and take his home and he has got
12 to go in and prove something. This is a bad idea. First
13 thought about it, I thought was that it was a great
14 idea --
15 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We have got to stick to what's on
16 the floor. Wait a minute. What's on the floor before we
17 get -- I loved your debate, it was great, but it goes to
18 the whole issue, it doesn't go just to the amendment. If
19 the amendment is adopted, some people may change their
20 minds and others. So we are going to vote first on the
21 amendment, then we are going to vote on the whole thing
22 where you can do that again.
23 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Mr. Chairman, his amendment
24 removed all of the dollar amount exemptions.
25 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That's correct.
1 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: So what I'm talking about,
2 that amendment takes all our little moms and pops from any
3 exemptions and puts them directly confronting the big
4 credit --
5 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: And you are going to vote no on
6 the amendment? You urge us to vote no on the amendment?
7 COMMISSIONER LANGLEY: Yes.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Scott.
9 COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Me too. And two examples. One
10 is the one Commissioner Planas gave, business not doing
11 well, try to help your business, take out a loan on your
12 home. You've thereby done something and perhaps -- and at
13 least they can put it at issue that you defrauded your
14 creditor. And I just -- I just think that -- I agree with
15 Commissioner Brochin, that there is enough to do.
16 And I also agree with Commissioner Nabors that to put
17 this on it will be at best confusing. I think we even
18 have some confusion in here. And especially to say
19 acquired or improved, I mean, it is just not a good idea.
20 And I forgot the other example, but it was equally as
21 bad as somebody trying to take -- oh, taxes. It is
22 deductible if you have a home loan, right. So if somebody
23 tells you about that and you go out it so happens at the
24 same time somebody has an accident or you have a business
25 not doing well, they say, Well, you tried to defraud
1 creditors because you took out more of a loan on your home
2 or whatever because it's deductible. I just don't like
3 this one or the other one.
4 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Riley.
5 COMMISSIONER RILEY: A question, Mr. Chairman. As I
6 understand it, if we were to pass the present amendment,
7 it would supplant then the original Proposal 70. And if
8 we do not pass, it then we go to Proposal 70 and vote on
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: That's exactly right.
11 COMMISSIONER RILEY: I would certainly encourage us
12 to get to it and let's vote.
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Okay. All right. If anybody
14 just feels like they have got to talk on this amendment,
15 let's do the amendment. And then if it is voted down,
16 then we can vote. If it's voted up then we can debate.
17 All in favor of the amendment, open the machine and let's
18 vote. All in favor of the amendment, cast your vote.
19 (Vote taken and recorded electronically.)
20 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Lock the machine. Announce the
22 READING CLERK: Five yeas, 24 nays, Mr. Chairman.
23 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. The amendment fails.
24 Now we are back on the original, as amended, amended,
25 amended one. We're back to the $500,000, Commissioner
1 Mills' proposal as amended. Now if anybody wants to
2 debate whether or not we adopt that, we will debate it.
3 Hearing no debate, I then open the machines and let's
5 (Vote taken and recorded electronically.)
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Announce the vote.
7 READING CLERK: Seven yeas, 24 nays, Mr. Chairman.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: The proposal fails. We will now
9 move on and eat lunch as I understand it.
10 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: No, sir. Wait a minute.
11 Wait a minute.
12 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: We can't leave without
13 Commissioner Barkdull telling us something.
14 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: We have got some people that
15 want to withdraw some items. And for the purpose of
16 housekeeping, we need to get it done.
17 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Let's get it done.
18 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: I want to withdraw
19 Proposition 19, this related to gubernatorial suspensions.
20 The staff has convinced me it is a bad idea and I'm asking
21 to withdraw it.
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, it is
24 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: The next one I wanted to
25 withdraw is No. 156, which is a duplicate of No. 153 which
1 is on the calendar.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, it is
4 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: There are others that want to
6 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Evans-Jones.
7 COMMISSIONER EVANS-JONES: I'd like to withdraw
8 Proposal 20, it is pertaining to taxation of public
9 property leased to a private entity. We have another bill
10 that we prefer. So I would just like to withdraw this.
11 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, it is
12 withdrawn. Commissioner Ford-Coates.
13 COMMISSIONER FORD-COATES: I'd like to withdraw
14 Proposal 78.
15 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: What is that?
16 COMMISSIONER FORD-COATES: Term limits, congressional
17 term limits.
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection -- hasn't that
19 been reported out of committee?
20 COMMISSIONER FORD-COATES: No, we temporarily passed
21 it last session. It was reported out of committee and we
22 temporarily passed it because I said I had some concerns
23 and I might want to withdraw it.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Did it have a favorable committee
1 COMMISSIONER FORD-COATES: Yes, it did.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: What's the status of that
3 Mr. Rules Chairman? You have a favorable recommendation
4 out of committee.
5 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: It's still just a waiver of
6 the rules and it can be withdrawn without objection.
7 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Two-thirds vote?
8 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Yes.
9 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. Without objection, it
10 will be withdrawn. It is withdrawn. Commissioner Nabors?
11 COMMISSIONER NABORS: I'd like to withdraw Proposal
12 65 which I understand is the same as Proposal 96.
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: It is an identical proposal and
14 you are withdrawing one of them. Without objection, it is
15 withdrawn. Commissioner Marshall.
16 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: Mr. Chairman, with the
17 concurrence of Commissioners Riley and Connor, I would
18 like to withdraw Proposal 131 because it relates closely
19 to Proposal 79 that was approved yesterday. If you are
20 satisfied that we accomplished our mission, I request it's
22 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, it is
23 withdrawn. What is 131? Tell us what it is, what is it?
24 COMMISSIONER MARSHALL: Providing the rights of
25 electoral participation.
1 COMMISSIONER RILEY: Ballot access.
2 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: But you say it is covered by the
3 one that we did. All right. It is withdrawn without
4 objection. All right. Is there any more? You have
5 another one. Commissioner Riley.
6 COMMISSIONER RILEY: Mr. Chairman, I have two that
7 were public proposals that have not been filed.
8 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: You can't withdraw them if they
9 haven't been filed.
10 COMMISSIONER RILEY: Well last time there was one, so
11 no problem.
12 (Off-the-record comment.)
13 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: They are withdrawn without
14 objection. State the numbers. They are not numbered.
15 They're withdrawn.
16 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: They got a preliminary
18 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Commissioner Smith.
19 COMMISSIONER SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd
20 like to withdraw Proposal 142, which is ballot access.
21 And the reason for that is that committee substitute
22 Proposal 79, which came out favorably, recommended
23 favorably from ethics and election, is identical to my
24 proposal, save one paragraph about fees. So we will get
25 the same thing accomplished.
1 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, it is
2 withdrawn. Commissioner Sundberg.
3 COMMISSIONER SUNDBERG: Mr. Chairman, I would like to
4 withdraw Proposal 73, it relates to initiatives and
5 requires that the 8 percent signature requirement be
6 obtained in all congressional districts rather than
7 one-half. That is identical to one -- to Proposal 130
8 sponsored by Commissioner Barkdull. And so I will
9 withdraw mine in favor of his.
10 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: Without objection, it is
11 withdrawn. Any more? All right. I am planning to, in
12 spite of what has occurred here, appoint Commissioner
13 Mills chairman of style and drafting. He is on probation
14 though. All right. Commissioner Barkdull.
15 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: I want to remind people again
16 that the Article V is still scheduled to meet and they
17 want that meeting to be at 4:00 and not be pushed to 4:30,
18 so it will remain at 4:00, Room 301.
19 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. I want to remind
20 you-all we're having the cocktail party so finish up and
21 come on over and get a drink.
22 COMMISSIONER BARKDULL: Now I move that we recess
23 until 8:30 tomorrow morning, 8:30.
24 CHAIRMAN DOUGLASS: All right. All in favor say aye.
25 We are recessed.
1 (Session recessed at 12:45 p.m., to be continued on
2 December 12, 1997, at 8:30 a.m.)
3 STATE OF FLORIDA:
4 COUNTY OF LEON:
WE, JULIE L. DOHERTY, KRISTEN L. BENTLEY and
6 MONA L. WHIDDON, court Reporters, certify that we were
authorized to and did stenographically report the foregoing
7 proceedings and that the transcript is a true and complete
record of our stenographic notes.
9 DATED this ______ day of ____________, 1997.
12 JULIE L. DOHERTY, RPR
KRISTEN L. BENTLEY
17 MONA L. WHIDDON
18 Division of Administrative Hearings
The DeSoto Building
19 1230 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3060
20 (904) 488-9675 Suncom 278-9675
Fax Filing (904) 921-6847