|Meeting Proceedings for July 29, 1997|
JACKSONVILLE PUBLIC HEARING
July 29, 1997
PRESENTATIONS WERE MADE BY THE FOLLOWING:
CHARLES B. REED- Tallahassee (Chancellor, State University System)
Article IX, s 1: Advocates the language of the 1868 Constitution, which provided that education shall be paramount in Florida, and that there shall be a free public university system.
Article VII: The most important thing the Commission can do is to make provision for a stable revenue source for education. The state needs a stable tax structure. The Constitution should contain provisions: (1) making it possible for the Legislature to earmark certain fees/taxes, such as a portion of the lottery revenues or a portion of tuition, for the bonding of capital outlay; and (2) restructuring the tax system. The multitude of exemptions should be done away with and it should be made more difficult for the legislature to grant any exemptions other than for food and medicine.
Article IX, s. 5: School superintendents should be appointed.
Article IV, s. 4: The cabinet system should be restructured. The State Board of Education should be appointed.
DONALD VAN FLEET, Jacksonville (Duval County Schools)
Article IX, s. 1: This section should provide for adequate "funding" of a uniform system of free public schools. We are at a disadvantage compared to other states as far as funding.
Article IX, s. 5: Recommends changing to appointed superintendents of schools. Professional superintendents are necessary.
Article IX, s. 4: Opposes efforts to break up large districts. Large districts can be properly managed; breaking them up is more expensive.
Article VII, s. 9: The millage cap for schools should be set locally and not be set out in the Constitution.
LINDA J. SKINNER, St. Augustine (Self)
Article I, s. 23: The right of privacy should not extend to the right to abortion. The privacy clause could not have been intended to allow for abortion and birth control for minors without parental consent.
RICK MULLANEY, Jacksonville (Chief of Staff, Mayorís Office)
Article II, s. 8: Questions whether the long-form financial disclosure dissuades people from serving the public. Explained that the City of Jacksonville Code of Ethics includes aspirational goals, requires training for newly-elected officials, and extends financial disclosure requirements to all appointees.
DURWOOD SMITH, Orange Park, (Retired Educators of Clay County and Self)
Article X, s. 14: It is imperative to make provision that funds of the Florida Retirement System be adequately protected.
Article VII: The property appraiser is not always right. The Constitution should insure that such a strong presumption of correctness not be made.
BETTY S. HOLZENDORF, Jacksonville (State Senator)
Article IX, s. 2: The State Board of Education should not be the cabinet. We need a board that would be focused on the governance of education.
Article IX, s. 4: Look at regionalization of school boards with regard to counties with small populations.
Article X, s. 16: Look at the net ban.
J. H. WILLIAMS, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 16: Keep the net ban
Article IX: Consider some way to bring discipline to the schools. There is a big difference in spanking and child abuse; however, if paddling is not okay, find some way to discipline.
WAYNE A. WOLFE, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 4(c): The prohibition against devising a homestead if the devisee is survived by a spouse or minor children should be deleted. It is an anachronism based on an agrarian society. There are very few instances where this arises, but when it does it is a problem. This is especially so where there is a second spouse and children from the first marriage. The surviving spouse gets a life estate, with the remainder to the children, yet often these parties are unwilling or unable to pay the mortgage.
CARL J. STRANG, JR., Winter Haven (Self)
Article VI: Our ballot access laws are the most oppressive in the United States. Half of all the congressional races where there was only one candidate were in Florida. The ballot access laws give major parties a monopoly and limit participation in the electoral process.
BOB WILLIAMS, Jacksonville (First Coast Manufacturers Association)
Article XI, s. 3: Constitutional amendments are too easy to pass. At the least, require a super majority and/or a greater number of signatures on petitions.
Article VII: Florida has a disproportionate tax system. It is a low tax state for individuals, but a high tax state for manufacturers.
Article VII: The Constitution should not micro-manage the Legislature. The Legislature need flexibility to meet budget concerns.
Article IX: Until we can solve the underlying problems with the schools so that students are prepared in basic skills to enter the workplace, there is a reluctance to continue to put money in the system. There should be no additional funding mandates until these problems are solved.
Article X: Tort reform might or might not be appropriate for inclusion in the Constitution. Prefers the flexibility of dealing with this legislatively. The issues that should be addressed in some forum include: (1) limiting the amount of non-economic damages; (2) limiting the amount of punitive damages; (3) limiting repetitive punitive damages for the same conduct; (4) limiting lawyer contingency fees; and (5) providing immunity from liability when the claimant is trespassing on property.
LINDA M. LANIER, Atlantic Beach (Planned Parenthood of NE Florida, Inc.)
Article I, s. 23: Donít change this provision. Medical relationships are private relationships. This provision has protected the right of prisoners not to have invasive medical procedures, the right to privacy of medical records, and a number of other important rights.
WILLIAM BRINTON, Jacksonville (Jacksonville Community Council, Inc.)
Article II, s. 8: Modify financial disclosure requirements by limiting the reporting of income. Review federal law and the law of other states. A better balance can be stricken. Current requirements are overly intrusive. Reporting requirements should be limited to figures such as total annual income, total net worth, and major sources of income, identified within ranges.
NANCY EDWARDS, Jacksonville (Jacksonville Community Council, Inc.)
Article II, s. 8: Retain but adjust financial disclosure requirements.
PAULA WEATHERBY, Jacksonville (Jacksonville Community Council, Inc.)
Article II, s. 8: The current financial disclosure provisions discourage qualified, concerned citizens from seeking public office.
BOB STOLL, Ponte Vedra Beach (Self)
Article II: Protection of the environment must be of overriding importance. Support the environmental Bill of Rights proposed by Secretary Wetherell.
ROGER VAN GHENT, St. Augustine (St. Johns County Conservation Coalition & Self)
Article II, s. 7(a): This provision should include wildlife habitat conservation and protection. The provision should read: It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty and wildlife habitat.
Article VI: Elections are being fought with the checkbook. Proposes that all contributions be limited to residents and businesses within the district in which the candidate is running.
ELIZABETH WHITE, Jacksonville (Self)
Article I, s. 23: This provision should be left as a legacy for our children. The Supreme Court has taken a moderate, not a radical approach to its interpretation.
MARJORIE RAMSEUR, Jacksonville (Christian Coalition, DAR, Republican Women)
Article V: All judges should be elected and re-elected. No merit elections.
Generally: All amendments should: (1) be based on our American heritage; (2) be in accord with our nationís sovereignty; and (3) should support public values.
ROBIN HOFFMAN, St. Augustine (Self)
Article I, s. 23: Objects to the use of this provision to strip away parental rights. Specifically, objects to the right of minors to obtain abortions without parental consent.
RANDY GRAVES, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 6(a): This provision should state: No private property shall be taken except for a substantial, explicit public use and with full compensation therefor made to each owner or secured by deposit in the registry of the court and available to the owner.
Article X: Supports a proposal to regulate the governmentís power to regulate private property by adding the following. "State government is delegated the limited power to regulate the use of private property solely to protect public health and safety in accordance with common lawís standards of nuisance. This delegation of power shall be interpreted narrowly."
Supports the proposals of the Constitutional Liberty Coalition.
JOHN TAYLOR, Amelia Island (Self)
Article I, s. 23: Leave things the way the are. The Supreme Court has interpreted this provision in a way supported by most of the citizens in the state.
MABEL B. TALMADGE, Jacksonville (Florida Retired Educators Association)
Article X, s. 14: Supports an amendment to protect the Florida Retirement system. There have been bills filed in the last few sessions to use retirement funds for other purposes; this should not be allowed.
SALLY SPENER, Tallahassee (Executive Director, Common Cause of Florida)
Article XI, s. 3: Supports an independent redistricting commission comprised of seven members, none of whom would be a public official, party officer, lobbyist, or employee or relative of a state legislator or member of Congress. Members would be ineligible from seeking office in any of the new districts for four years. Appointments would be made by the Speaker, President, Senate minority leader, House minority leader, Governor and Chair of the party which finished second in the previous governorís election. These six would select a seventh member to serve as Chair. Standards should be set for drawing districts so that districts: are equal in population; lines coincide with the boundaries of local political subdivisions when possible; are contiguous; are compact; do not favor any party, incumbent, or other person or group; and are not drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or racial minority group. The proposal provides for review by the Florida Supreme Court.
Article V: Supports extending the existing framework for merit selection and retention of judges to apply to all judges, including circuit and county judges. Merit selection allows for careful review of qualifications and temperament and is free from the corrupting influence of campaign contributions. The public retains a voice through a retention election. This is a good compromise between election and appointment for life.
LINDA M. BREMER, Jacksonville (Self)
Article XII, s. 9(a), fn1: Maintain land acquisition and management funding and make it permanent.
Article II, s. 7: Add provisions requiring legislative and executive branches to protect land acquired under these programs from a multitude of private and public misuses, such as prisons, timber operations, cattle grazing and golf courses.
Article IV: Supports unification of the Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission.
Article X: Protect our environmental and planning agencies from laws that benefit a landowner who destroys a public resource at the expense of the community.
Article IV, s. 4: Protect the cabinet system. It gives a voice to ordinary citizens. Decisions reflect vision and breadth lacking in other forums.
PATRICIA ANDERSON, Jacksonville (Self)
Endorses views of previous speaker, Linda Bremer
WILLIAM McQUILKIN (St. Johns County Audubon Society)
Article II, s. 7: Strengthen and expand this protection of our natural resources.
Article XII, s. 9(a) fn1: Extend the P2000 program and provide a permanent funding source in the Constitution.
MAURICE COMAN, Jacksonville (Chair, N.E. Fla. Group of the Sierra Club)
Supports the proposals of Ms. Bremer, and others who spoke in favor of protecting natural resources. Quality of life is an important aspect of the appeal of Florida.
BONNIE WILLIAMS, Tallahassee (Executive Director, Florida Commission on Ethics)
MARY ALICE PHELAN, Jacksonville (Former Chair, Commission on Ethics)
Article II, s. 8(f): Consider amending this so that the Ethics Commission may make "primary" investigations. Currently an investigation may only be made based upon a complaint filed with the Commission. The Commission cannot initiate a complaint.
Article II: Inequality exists with special treatment of the legislative branch. The Legislature has retained the right to discipline its members. Members of the Legislature are not held accountable if they have relied on the advice of legislative counsel. Other officers and employees are accountable even though they have relied on advice of counsel.
KATHY CHINOY, Jacksonville (Chair, Commission on Ethics)
Article II: Two issues of interest to the Ethics Commission are (1) primary investigations; and (2) privatization issues.
MARK HERRON, Tallahassee (Self)
Article III, s. 18 and Article II, s. 8: Should be combined into one to eliminate confusion.
Article II, s. 8(b): This has to do with campaign finances, and perhaps should be placed in a different place in the Constitution. This is dealt with by the Secretary of State/Elections Commission, not the Ethics Commission. This would also eliminate some confusion.
Article II, s. 8: This applies full financial disclosure to constitutional officers, and does not apply to city officials. Suggests applying this to any elected official in the State of Florida.
Article XII: Consider taking this out. Most provisions are no longer needed.
MATTHEW CORRIGAN, Jacksonville (League of Women Voters)
Article XI, s. 3: Changes should be made with regard to initiatives. The Constitution should not contain legislative detail; money is influencing these campaigns. Limits should be placed on petition gatherers and on expenditures. Allowing statutory initiatives would help.
Article VI: Eliminate the second primary. Voter turnout rates for second primaries are low; these primaries are an artifact of Southern politics of the past when Florida was a one-party state; absentee ballots are difficult to administer in a runoff election; plurality is used for general elections in Florida; and these primaries make the general election less competitive, i.e., a runoff only in one party gives a financial advantage to the other party.
A. WELLINGTON BARLOW, Jacksonville (Self)
Article V: Retain current system of electing and appointing judges. Merit selection does not remove politics from the appointment of judges.
BETTY JOHNSTON, Jacksonville (Right to Life of NE Florida)
Article I, s. 23: Proposes an amendment to require parental consent for minors in all medical procedures.
Also supporting this view:
Daythel R. Stokes, Jacksonville (Self)
Connie L. Swain, Jacksonville (Self)
Carol Lynne Gibson, Orange Park (Women In Need - Home for Girls)
THOMAS C. TROUTMAN, Port Orange (Grandparents United for Childrenís Rights, Inc.)
Article I, s. 2: Basic rights section should include age as a characteristic for which a person may not be discriminated against. Add "and age" after the words "physical handicap."
Article I, s. 21: Access to courts. Amend this provision to read: "The courts shall be open to every person regardless of age for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay."
Article I: Add provision stating: "A person 18 years of age or older is an adult for all purposes."
Article I: Add provision stating: "The rights of persons under 18 years of age shall include, but not be limited to, all fundamental rights of the Article unless specifically precluded by laws which enhance the protection of such persons."
RODNEY BROWN, Jacksonville (Self)
Article I, s. 2: Add "age" as something for which you cannot be discriminated against. That is, amend the last sentence of the section to read: "No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, age or physical handicap." Mr. Brownís mother died purportedly as a result of medical negligence, yet Florida law precluded him from suing for damages because of his age (over 25).
WAYNE ALFORD, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 13: Eliminate the cap on the waiver of sovereign immunity. It is an arbitrary figure. The claim bill process is not sufficient.
JOSEPH A. STRASSER, Jacksonville (Self)
Article VII: Assess, but donít levy property tax on the elderly. Let the estate handle the taxes. The elderly should not be forced from their homes because they canít pay their taxes.
Do more with what we have. Donít increase the size of government.
ROBERT M. NIED, Jacksonville (Self)
Article III, s. 16: Supports independent redistricting commission.
Article I, s. 24/Article III, s. 4: Donít weaken government in the sunshine
Article V: Supports merit retention and selection for all judges
Article VI: Supports public campaign finance and disclosure of contributions
Article II, s. 8: Supports a narrow range of financial disclosure - just enough to track substantial changes.
Article IV: Donít elect a Comptroller or Insurance Commissioner. These should be appointed by the Governor.
Article VI, s. 4: Opposes term limits. Citizens should be able to choose who they want for as along as they wish.
Article XI, s. 3: Supports initiatives with changes, such as requiring a super majority.
Article I, s. 23: Donít change the privacy amendment.
Article II: Supports the speakers who spoke on preserving natural resources
Article IV: Supports unification of Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission with the Marine Fisheries Commission.
Article X, s. 6: Eminent domain should be able to be used for broad public purposes
Simplify Constitution. Remove provisions that donít belong in Constitution.
JANIE THOMAS, Fernandina Beach (Organized Fishermen of Florida)
Article XI, s. 3: Initiative process is broken. Unless put on by elected officials, a matter should not go on the ballot. Each petition should be sworn to and notarized. Proponents of a petition should have to pay the full cost of the process. It should not be so easy to change a way of life.
Article IV: Opposed to unification of Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and Marine Fisheries Commission. Every segment of government should be governed by elected officials.
JOSEPH E. HALL, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 16: The net ban should be reversed. Fishermen cannot afford to fish any more.
CHARLES J. DeYOUNG, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 16: The net ban is a politically motivated law. Money and political clout can buy a law. Something needs to be done to control this process. The gill net fishermen were not fairly represented - they were given up to benefit the shrimp fishermen.
OWEN GANZEL, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 16: This initiative process was the only real option with regard to the net ban. Research had been gathered and provided for many years, but was not acted upon.
CHARLES T. HOLT, Jacksonville (Self)
Article X, s. 16: Citizens need the ability to have initiatives. The net ban has worked. There are now more fish and the commercial fishermen will make money.
RON EUBANKS, Fort Walton Beach (Self)
Article V: Members of the legal profession should not be allowed to exert control over the executive or legislative branches of government. All three branches of government are in the hands of lawyers. They are making, enforcing and interpreting the law. Proposes: All assets of the Florida Bar, the Florida Bar Foundation and the Florida Lawyers Association for the Maintenance of Excellence shall be transferred to the state and shall be controlled by the Florida Legislature. It shall be mandated that the Florida Bar Board of Governors shall be constituted of 2/3 non-lawyers. The non-lawyer members shall be elected in a general election - 2 from each circuit. The non-lawyer members would be paid from the dues paid by lawyers. The President of the Florida Bar presides over the Board of Governors and shall be appointed by the executive branch. The President could not be a lawyer, and would replace the Executive Director. All lawyers would be required to be bonded and insured.
JAMES B. CLAYTON, DeLeon Springs (Self)
Article VI: Proposes that if you cannot vote for the candidate, you cannot contribute to the candidate.
Article III: No monetary consideration shall be allowed to be given or received for lobbying.
Article V: Supports election of judges.
THE FOLLOWING SUBMITTED APPEARANCE CARDS BUT WAIVED THEIR TIME OR DID NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK:
Ed Brooks (Florida Association of Court Clerks)
Payton Scheppe, Jacksonville (Coastal Conservation Association)
Joyce Jones, Jacksonville (Mayport Fishermanís Association) Against net ban
Lewis Ponce, Jacksonville (Mayport Fishermanís Association)Against net ban
Deborah C. Warren, Jacksonville (First Coast Manufacturers Association)
Walter Joba, Jacksonville (First Coast Manufacturers Association)
Raymond R. Furman, Jacksonville. Against net ban
Louis E. Jones, Jacksonville (Mayport Fishermanís Association)Against net ban
Lynwood Roberts, Jacksonville (Tax Collector)
R. C. Dow, Jacksonville (Self) Supports net ban
Edward B. LeMaster, Ponte Vedra Beach (Self)Supports net ban
Larry Kirkman, Green Cove Springs (Self) Supports initiative petitions
Walter Y. Darand, Jacksonville (Self) Against net ban
Edwin A. Thompson, Mayport (Self) Supports net ban.
L. L. Hodges, Jacksonville (Self)
George Popi, St. Augustine (Self) Supports net ban
Wade Seagraves, Jacksonville (Self) Supports net ban
Mark E. Singleton, Jacksonville (Mayport Fishermans Association)Against net ban
Mat Roland, Jacksonville (Self)
Garth Ann Brewster, Jacksonville (Self) Supports continuing P2000
Dr. Edna Saffy, Jacksonville (Self) Retain Article I, s. 23 as is
Linda Schaeffer, Orange Park (Self) Supports right to parental consent
Douglas Adkins, Hilliard (Self)
Barbara Walch, Jacksonville (National Organization for Women) Retain Art.I,s.23 as is
Douglas K. Wicks, Jacksonville (Self)
Ronald Mullins, Jacksonville Beach (Self) Supports net ban
Vera W. Davis, Jacksonville (Duval Co. Retired Teachers) Supports protecting retirement funds of retired teachers
Carl J. Duncan, Tallahassee (Self) provided the following written comments:
Article V:Combine merit retention with popular election. Require unchallenged incumbent county and circuit judges to appear on the first primary ballot as retain or not retain. If not retained, candidates have 10 days to qualify.
Article X, s. 15: (2) Require lottery funds to be supplemental to general revenue with general revenue being no less than 4% of the actual percentage of the general revenue budget allocation to education as it was at the time the lottery was approved.
Article XI, s. 3: (3) Provide for statutory initiative. Initiators must file an impact study. Supreme Court to decide if an initiative is constitutional or statutory based on a standard set by the Legislature. The Legislature may not repeal an initiative statute for at least five years.
Article XI, s. 2: The Constitution Revision Commission must include at least one citizen each from the middle, lower middle, and lower economic class levels. The Legislature must appropriate a sum sufficient to cover travel and per diem expense of Commission members.
Article VI: State may not place financial burdens on candidates by requiring reports to be submitted by technology.
Article VI: The news media must provide a set amount of time/space at reduced rates or free to political candidates. Minimum requirements shall be set by statute.
Article III, s. 16: Provide for an elected reapportionment committee
Article VI: Allow for a statutory cap on the amount of money that may be raised by candidates, political parties, political action committees, etc. and the amount of money which may be given to a candidate from a single source. Prohibit contributions from those not residents of Florida or Florida businesses.