The Best Constitutional Recipe is “Self-Executing,” SLR/IRL

Serving on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission the past year, I have learned quite a bit. Ingredients certainly have their place in the cookbook of Tallahassee, but the final recipe followed belongs to those in power.

Unless…you can come up with a recipe that is failsafe, a recipe that is “self executing.”

Let’s review a definition of self-executing: “A constitutional provision is selfexecuting when it can be given effect without the aid of legislation, and there is nothing to indicate that legislation is intended to make it operative.”

Remember P23, “A Right to Clean and Healthful Environment?” My proposal that was met with tremendous statewide opposition, the one Affiliated Industries of Florida hired four Gunster attorney’s to fight? The proposal that was voted down on January 12 by the Judicial Committee?

I believe that proposal was “so threatening” because many believed, or wanted to believe, that the proposal was “self executing.” Meaning if it got into the Florida constitution, like a light switch everything would just change as it would go into effect without direction from the legislature.

Let’s look at the language of P23

   (c) The natural resources of the state are the legacy of
   27  present and future generations. Every person has a right to a
   28  clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water;
   29  control of pollution; and the conservation and restoration of
   30  the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the
   31  environment as provided by law. Any person may enforce this
   32  right against any party, public or private, subject to
   33  reasonable limitations, as provided by law.

On the other hand, if you look at the language for Amendment 1, 2014 that passed by 74.9% by Citizen Initiative, the language is definitely not-self executing.” The legislature has to “make it operative” —as it has to do with money, appropriations….

Florida Constitution, Article X

SECTION 28.Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

(a)Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
(b)Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:(1)As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.
(2)To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).
(c)The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the general revenue fund of the state.

So now Amendment 1 2014, has sat in the Florida constitution since 2015 and funds have been spent have been spent for agency salaries, risk management, vehicles, but not conservation land purchase.

Why because the language is not self-executing. And because the state legislature is not minding the will of the people.

As a CRC member, I took on P46, now know as Article X, Section 28, Land Acquisition Trust Fund because the public repeatedly asked the CRC to address this issue during the public hearings and on-line.

I am now realizing even with new language, or an amendment,  Land Acquisition Trust Fund will remain non-self executing.

I can fight for the intent of Amendment 1, 2014, and that I will, but I cannot make Article x, Section 28 Land Acquisition Trust Fund self-executing. For that we need new cooks in the kitchen.

 CRC - 2017                                                  P 46
       
       
        
       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00052-17                                      201746__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 28 of Article X of the State Constitution to
    3         revise the manner of the distribution of funds that
    4         are deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund
    5         from a portion of the net revenues derived from the
    6         excise tax on documents.
    7          
    8  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    9  Florida:
   10  
   11         Section 28 of Article X of the State Constitution is
   12  amended to read:
   13                              ARTICLE X                            
   14                            MISCELLANEOUS                          
   15         SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund.—
   16         (a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of
   17  this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after
   18  that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall
   19  receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the
   20  existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in
   21  effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any
   22  successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue
   23  first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the
   24  collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
   25         (b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be
   26  expended only for the following purposes:
   27         (1) No less than one-third of the revenue must be deposited
   28  into the Florida Forever Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes
   29  in effect on January 1, 2017.
   30         (2) The remainder must be expended as provided by law, to
   31  finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land,
   32  water areas, and related property interests, including
   33  conservation easements, and natural resources for conservation
   34  lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife
   35  habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water
   36  resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting
   37  the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams,
   38  springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and
   39  aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and
   40  the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II,
   41  Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands,
   42  including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space;
   43  rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or
   44  geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural
   45  systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational
   46  enjoyment of conservation lands.
   47         (3)(2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to
   48  Article VII, Section 11(e) as may be required.
   49         (c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust
   50  Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012,
   51  shall not be or become commingled with the general revenue fund
   52  of the state.

P46 will go before the CRC Legislative Committee on Friday, January 26. You can write committee members here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the 2018 CRC: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

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