More than 120 students from 25 colleges and universities around the state gathered at the University of Florida from Feb. 10 to Feb. 12 to participate in the Bob Graham Center for Public Service's Fourth Annual Future of Florida Summit.
The summit focused on the upcoming Constitution Revision Commission, a 37-member body appointed every 20 years that has the unique power to place constitutional amendments on the ballot for Florida voters to consider.
Students listened to state leaders, including former Florida Supreme Court Justice James Perry, former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth and past Florida Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand, about the critical issues facing the state.
Participants attended breakout sessions on education, elections, the environment and the judiciary, and worked with panelists to come up with amendment ideas.
In all, 12 student groups presented amendments ranging from creating a separate governance system for the State College System to restoring civil rights to felons who have been convicted of non-violent crimes. Each group's presentation proposed the amendment text, ballot title and ballot summary - all of which are required for an amendment proposal to make its way on the ballot.
Three amendments were chosen for submission to the Constitution Revision Commission:
- Increase the mandatory retirement age for judges to 75 from 70
- Eliminate the write-in loophole in elections, which allows write-in candidates to "close" primaries that would otherwise be open and allow all registered voters to participate
- Change elected constitutional officer positions in non-charter counties to nonpartisan
The groups' proposals were judged based on the clarity of the amendment and ballot summary text, the plausibility of the amendment receiving the required 60 percent of votes in an election, the amendment's constitutional worthiness (i.e. the now-notorious pregnant pigs amendment), and the quality of the presentation. Read more.