Nature and Purpose of the Steering Committee

Background. The Steering Committee is a five-person group composed of the of the five constitutionally designated appointing authorities to the upcoming Constitution Revision Commission. Governor Lawton Chiles appointed General Counsel W. Dexter Douglass as Chair of the committee. Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Senate President Jim Scott, and House Speaker Peter R. Wallace represent their respective offices. Chief Justice Gerald Kogan appointed Third District Court of Appeal Judge Thomas H. Barkdull to represent the Supreme Court.

Purpose of Steering Committee. Once every twenty years, the Florida Constitution is reviewed by a thirty-seven member Constitution Revision Commission. The last revision commission was convened in 1978. The next revision commission will begin its work in May 1997. According to the Constitution, the revision commission has approximately one year to organize, identify issues, perform research, conduct public hearings, and recommend constitutional changes. Many former members of the Constitution Revision Commission have concluded that the current time frame is too short for the commission to perform its constitutional mandate. It has been further suggested that by the time the Commission has been appointed, it is too late to begin to generate public interest in the revision process. In response to the observations regarding the short time frame, and with bipartisan support from the leadership of the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, Governor Chiles created, by Executive Order, the Constitution Revision Commission Steering Committee. (See Executive Order 96-194).

Charge. The Steering Committee is charged with disseminating information to the public regarding the revision process, proposing a budget, developing issues for consideration by the revision commission, performing necessary research, developing proposed rules of procedure, developing proposed committee structure for the revision commission, and gathering any other materials that would facilitate the operation of the revision commission.

Timetable. The Steering Committee is required to submit a report to the Chair of the Constitution Revision Commission. The Executive Order creating the Steering Committee expires on July 1, 1997 or upon the first meeting of the commission, whichever occurs first.