October 2017 Month in Review – State News

This month, with little fanfare or publicity, online voter registration became available in Florida. County elections supervisors lobbied for it for years, and the Florida legislature approved it two years ago, wrote the Tampa Bay Times.

To me, that’s the most important state news of the month, as it should make it easier for people to register to vote and keep their registration current. New registrations and changes to name, address and party affiliation can be made on the state site here, or through the Collier Supervisor of Elections at colliervotes.com.

Getting to work in Tallahassee

In October, committees began meeting and legislators began filing bills for the 2018 legislative session that begins in January.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, who represents Collier County, chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre-K – 12 Education. She is also Vice Chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee.

In the House, Rep. Bob Rommel, who represents western Collier, is Vice Chair of the Oversight, Transparency & Administration SubcommitteeRep. Byron Donalds, who represents central Collier and Hendry County, is Vice Chair of the PreK–12 Appropriations Subcommittee. And Rep. Carlos Trujillo, who represents eastern Collier and parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee and is Alternating Chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission 

To date, over 600 bills have been submitted in the House and Senate; the filing deadline is January 9. More than 3,000 bills were submitted last year.

Here are some stories about bills that interest me.

Getting to work in the 2017–18 Florida Constitution Revision Commission

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Every 20 years in Florida, a Constitution Revision Commission is appointed. It meets for approximately one year, traveling across the state, identifying issues, performing research and possibly recommending changes to the Florida Constitution. It holds public hearings to learn about issues that matter to Floridians and considers proposed constitutional amendments submitted by the public and by commissioners.

Over 2,000 public proposals were submitted to the 2017–18 CRC by the deadline of October 6; list here.

Out of the 2,000-plus ideas, the commission agreed to “sponsor” (i.e. consider further) only six (list here) — an acceptance rate of .3 percent. The League of Women Voters of Florida and 10 other organizations protested this result in a letter to the CRC Chairman and Commission members:

(You) issued a stunning rejection of the thousands of Floridians who invested considerable time and effort to share their ideas and draft proposals for improving their constitution…. (T)his commission’s actions are brazenly dismissive of the concerns and suggestions of Floridians.  

October 31 is the deadline for commissioners to submit their own proposals. Over 40 were submitted through October 28; list here. Of note:

Also of note: CRC Commissioner Erika Donalds, a Collier County School Board member who is married to Rep. Byron Donalds, submitted five proposed amendments. They are:

Call to action: If there is a proposed amendment that you do not want to see moved forward to the 2018 ballot, let your voice be heard! The CRC will consider public input on proposals prior to their final vote. You can email Commissioners directly here.

Other top stories

An important exposé

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In my next post, I’ll report on October’s top local government and school district news.

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