2018 has arrived.
I was appointed to the Constitution Revision Commission, that meets only once every 20 years, last February, by Senate President Joe Negron (https://www.flcrc.gov). After a dizzying time, I’d say, I feel like I am finally catching my stride. The entire experience has been a lot like when I moved to Berlin, Germany in 1989. It was cold and I did not speak the language, but after many months of study and applying myself, it started to feel natural.
I have learned the CRC history; mastered the insane elevator system at the Capitol; gotten insight into the complexities of power and politics; met people from all over the state with their own serious issues; recognized the incredible importance of staff and of journalists; have learned how to run an effective legislative-style meeting; and how to stand my ground on a vote.
I have tried to apply the “5-Cs” that an army general taught me years ago…. Communication, Collaboration, Compromise, Cooperation, and Consensus…
As you may know, I sponsored 5 CRC environmental proposals. These came from the public’s submittals on-line, or from a public hearing earlier last year. One was a former citizen’s initiative. Today I will review where I am and where I think things are going.
The proposal that has gotten the most attention as well as the most push back–with 4 AIF hired Gunster lawyers, one a former Supreme Court Justice, fighting tooth and nail—has been P23, “A Right to Clean and Healthful Environment.” It was workshopped and heard by the Judicial Committee and I expect it to be voted on Friday, January 12, 2018. Due to the controversy, the prognosis does not look good, but it has raised environmental awareness for all of the proposals, and in my opinion made the business and government community look desperate to hold on to Florida’s “standard environmental operating procedure” that puts corporations and development before people. This power will not last forever, and we are all dependent on Florida’s good nature for our “riches.” —A search will pull up a multitude of editorials, news articles, and opinions, on this subject.
Two others will also be heard this coming week. P24 “Commissioner Environmental Protection”and P48 “FWC/Wildlife Corridors.” Both of these will be discussed and voted on by the Executive Committee of which I happen to sit on. P48 would allow FWC to protect habitat not just species. This seems a no brainer as how can you have species without protecting their habitat; but private property and development rights play into the equation so it will be a fight. I look forward to the discussion and for all of us to realize that one way or another, the only way to approach Florida’s growth filled future is with the pragmatic goal of statewide living wildlife corridors, connected and protected lands.
P24 would establish a Commissioner of Environmental Protection. A cabinet position. Just like Agriculture. Since the environment is linked to our number one state income generator–tourism it seems the time has come….challenging power structures is always a wrestling match, but this is one we can win.
The following week, on January 18, I expect to go before the Legislative Committee for P46, “Clarifying Language in Amendment 1 2014, or Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” It was heard once already but “temporarily postponed” to requests by committee and myself to work on the language. Sue Mullins and Clay Henderson are backbone of this proposal, know the background, etc., and I am fortunate to have their expertise.
I expect on January 19 to go before the Declaration of Rights Committee for P91,”No gas and oil drilling in Florida’s territorial waters.”
P91 is the only one of the five proposals to have “passed committee” in December. What is so amazing to me about this proposal is its timeliness. When I took it on, I actually first thought to myself, “You know, isn’t this kind of pase’? The River Kidz were protesting oil drilling with Surfrider Foundation in 2012. This won’t happen here…” But because it was past citizens’ initiative, and the language had already been reviewed, and because Manley Fuller who is a legend in the environmental community and the president of the Florida Wildlife Federation brought it to my attention, recommending I support it, I submitted the proposal three minutes before the deadline.
Now many months have passed and things have quickly changed. As headlines explode with oil drilling and federal opening of submerged lands including Floirda’s…it seems serendipitous that this proposal is lined up for the CRC, every Florida politician — regardless of party affiliation, and the diverse citizens of the state of Florida to support.
Some people would call it a “God-wink;” I like to think so. I will fight for every proposal, but it sure is nice to feel the wind at my back.
See CRC Calendars here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Meetings/Calendars/2017
To write committees mentioned above in support or with concerns see Committee Tab here and then link to committee: https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is Chair of General Provisions, her proposals can be viewed here, and she can be emailed from this link: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch