Tag Archives: CRC

Come Together Florida for Clean Air and Clean Water! VOTE #YesOn9!

Nothing has given me as much insight into the political process as serving on the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission (http://flcrc.gov/index.html) When appointed by Florida’s President of the Senate, Joe Negron, my response was:” Are you kidding me? I don’t think I’m qualified for that.” He chuckled, and said in his confident, matter of fact way: “Jacqui, you’ll be fine.”

Although I did not have the experience of the other well-known lawyers and politicians, I was more versed in environmental issues, and made that my goal. After painstaking work, four of my citizen sponsored environmental proposals were rejected, (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/environmental-proposals-for-crc/) but one made it to the finish line with close to a unanimous vote. This proposal was submitted by the Florida Wildlife Federation, and was a former Citizen’s Initiative ripe for rebirth: #91, Prohibiting Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s State Waters. In the end, the Style and Drafting Committee bundled #91 with #65: prohibiting vaping in public workspaces. I thought it was a perfect fit compared to be being bundled with any of the others; and the proposal would be bundled, I knew that.

Our theme was “clean air and clean water.”

As you may know, the amendment hasn’t been without controversy, and was taken with the rest of the bundled amendments all the way to Florida’s Supreme Court. Finally, they ruled on October 17, 2018, that the commission acted within its rules: “Unlike proposed amendments that originate through initiative petitions, amendments proposed by the CRC are not bound by the single-subject rule limiting amendments to one subject,” the ruling states.

Amendment-9-Ruling

Supreme Court: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/opinions.shtml

To say I was relieved, is an understatement!

What a legacy for the state of Florida this could be! And November 6th, Election Day, is right around the corner.

Many times over the past year, during the stress of it all, I have visited the beach myself. Every single time I go, I am filled with inspiration. Walking along the shoreline watching young people, old people, people of every race, nationality, and socioeconomic  background;  studying seagulls fly, and pelicans dive with a skill beyond our human form; seeing silver schools of bait fish shining in the sunlight as the waves swell and dissipate;  watching smiling children bury each other in the sand, collect shells, and laugh as they run on little legs. Joyful!

The true happiness here belongs to all Floridians!

Do not let oil drilling ever take this away. This place, of all places, is where we can come together and appreciate God’s gifts of clean water and clean air. And when we have to pick up and go home, and Monday, be back at work, clean air should be guaranteed in our workplaces as well. We must protect what is sacred to us.

Come together Florida.

Vote yes on 9!

Amendment 9 provides voters with two-fold opportunity | Guest column by CRC Commissioners Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Lisa Carlton: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/10/17/amendment-9-gives-voters-two-fold-opportunity-guest-column/1646155002/

Yes on 9 Florida: http://yeson9florida.org

Breathe Clean Florida:http://breathecleanfl.org

CRC Commissioners: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners.html

Note that Amendment 9 is a grassroots amendment with not major funding as others below. Learn more about all Florida ballot amendments on Ballotpedia:

Ballotpedia: Florida Constitutional Amendments: http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_2018_ballot_measures

The Champion Fallen Oak, Nathaniel Pryor Reed, SLR/IRL

Champion oak tree in Angel Oak Park, on Johns Island, South Carolina, National Registry of Champion Oaks page, 2015, https://www.americanforests.org/explore-forests/americas-biggest-trees/champion-trees-national-register/ (Image: B.B. Easton)
Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post 2014 https://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/tales-nature-and-power-award-enough-for-legendary-enviro-nat-reed/IGeJCG9mimBDuetearCDvN/
My parent’s fallen oak tree, 2016.

Nathaniel Pryor Reed 1933-2018

Obituary, Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/nathaniel-reed-leader-in-efforts-to-protect-endangered-wildlife-and-wetlands-dies-at-84/2018/07/13/ae25a46a-86a7-11e8-8f6c-46cb43e3f306_story.html?utm_term=.f87d9c61166c

Moon through the giant oak tree at my parents house, 11-6-14. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)

The death of elderly Mr Nathaniel Reed, was not completely unexpected. He was like an ancient champion oak, old and beautifully weathered. But the news of his death was shocking, bringing  tears and heartbreak to the many touched by his long branches, and the seeds he spread along the way.

I can never “not remember” Mr Reed. He was always, since my earliest childhood, a figment of my greater imagination and consciousness, an example of what it meant to have a meaningful life and purpose,  to walk and make change in the tainted world of politics, to choose the greater-good over greed, to inspire.

During my Sewall’s Point mayorship in 2011,  I first became active in the environmental community for which Martin County is known. Mr Reed planted the seeds, writing me a note here and there, on his quality stationary; in 2016, he gave the maximum amount to my campaign when I ran for county commissioner, District 1, and in his final years, Mr Reed wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Stuart News of which he sent me a copy.

At that time my student proposed Constitution Revision Commission proposal “A Right to a Clean Environment” was getting clobbered by Affiliated Industries, the Florida Chamber, The Florida Agriculture Coalition, and other powers who had assembled a legal team, including a former Florida Chief Justice to squash this threatening idea.

I was so worn down, and had been working so hard. Mr Reed’s letter and support reinvigorated me and the students. And although the proposal did not make the vote, it made smarter people than me on the CRC and throughout the state think, about how our paradise of Florida has become so polluted, and what we can do for change.

Let’s once again read Mr Reed’s words, at the trunk of the fallen champion oak remembering that we are his acorns, or even his resurrection fern…

Thank you Mr Reed. I am forever grateful. We will work towards your legacy.

Letter: Proposed amendment a brave effort to ensure a clean environment

Dec. 8, 2017

Thank you for the Dec. 1 editorial supporting the right to a clean environment!

The “usual suspects” are opposing the constitutional amendment proposed by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, which would receive strong support from the vast majority of Florida voters, just as they quietly opposed Amendment 1.

The fact that the Department of Environmental Protection and the Everglades Foundation have at last identified every polluter in the vast Okeechobee headwaters is an astonishing feat. The sheer number of polluters is mind-boggling.

The failure to enforce the possibly unenforceable standard (best management practices) shines through the research as testament to the carelessness of our state governmental agencies about enforcing strict water quality standards within the watershed.

There is not a lake, river nor estuary in Florida that is not adversely impacted by agricultural pollution.

As one of the authors of the 1973 Clean Water Act, I attempted late in the process to include agricultural pollution in the bill, but the major congressional supporters of the pending bill felt that by adding controls on agricultural pollution the bill would fail.

Now, 54 years later, fertilizer and dairy wastes are the main contributors to the pollution of the waters of our nation. Algal blooms are all too common even on the Great Lakes.

The “usual suspects” may defeat Thurlow-Lippisch’s brave effort, but you are right: The issues won’t go away!

Lefty Durando’s column clearly states the issues involved in the decades-long struggle to protect the Arctic National Wild Life Refuge. Having been there several times as assistant secretary, I have joined a group of well-known environmentalists, Republicans and Democrats urging defeat of the proposal to open the critical habitat of the coast zone to exploratory drilling. I suspect it is a lost cause, but one worth the fight to preserve the “Serengeti of the North”!

Nathaniel Reed, Hobe Sound

Links:

The Right to a Clean Environment Should Be Written Into Florida’s Constitution, JTL, Stuart News: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/10/26/right-clean-environment-should-written-into-florida-constitution-guest-column/802410001/

News, Bruce Ritchie, Politico: Affiliated Industries Prepares to Fight a Right to a Clean Environment: https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2017/11/22/industry-to-fight-proposed-constitutional-amendment-for-clean-healthful-environment-122148

Resurrection fern

What!? What was Approved by the CRC for the 2018 Ballot?

Full CRC, 3-21-18

P 6001: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges
P 6002: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities
P 6003: School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools
P 6004: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces
P 6005: State and Local Government Structure and Operation
P 6006: Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes
P 6007: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers
P 6012: Ends Dog Racing

You may have read a plethora of articles on the completed work of the 2018 Constitution Revision Commission and thought to yourself, “What!?”

Today I am going share the CRC press release that includes all of the proposals, now revisions, that will become constitutional amendments for the public to vote for or against on the 2018 ballot. Here they are in one place where you can easily research them.

Six of the proposed amendments are grouped, and “related.” Although for many, controversial, in my opinion, this can be a good thing, is perfectly legal, and we all know this was done in similar but not exact fashion by both the ’78 and ’98 CRCs. Unlike Citizen Initiatives, the CRC is not held to a “single subject.” There is a reason for this; it allows more ideas to be included. To be inclusive was the goal as there were over 2000 public or commissioner proposals submitted, and only 20 were approved to go on the ballot. To accommodate, six groups that were determined to be legally related and achieved at least 22 votes by the commission are “bundled.” Two though are separate. ~for a total of 8. In the future we will study each amendment, grouped or alone,  independently; today those that were voted to go forward to the ballot 2018 are presented.

I am proud of the work of the commission! It has been my greatest honor to be a part. We devoted over one year of service, and heard thousands of diverse Floridian’s speak out. We have provided many varied choices for voters to move into the future of the next twenty years…until the 2038 Constitution Revision Commission convenes! “Getting there” should be interesting, and we all must get involved to make Florida’s challenging and changing future the best possible. We must read, study, talk to other fellow Floridians, debate, and VOTE!

I have read many articles myself and wish to share one that is great at simplifying the 8 amendments as it provides a chart. This article is written by Aron C. Dunlap of Carlton Fields in West Palm Beach. I do not know him or the law firm, but I thank Mr Dunlap for publishing:

Please go here for chart: (https://www.carltonfields.com/florida-constitution-revision-commission-meets-for-final-time-and-approves-8-ballot-measures/)

Hmmm? 20 more years until the next CRC….I will be 74 years old by then! How about you? 🙂

CRC Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 16, 2018, CONTACT: Meredith Beatrice, (850) 508-5204

CRC APPROVES EIGHT REVISIONS FOR THE 2018 GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pursuant to Article XI, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) today voted to approve eight revisions to be placed on the 2018 General Election ballot for voter consideration.

CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff, said, “For more than a year, Commissioners have traveled across the state to speak directly with citizens about the changes they want to see in the Florida Constitution. After months of in-depth research and debate, the CRC has narrowed down thousands of comments and ideas into eight final revisions for voter consideration. From protecting our state and territorial waters from oil drilling to strengthening our ethics laws, I commend my fellow Commissioners for their hard work and leadership representing the people of Florida. We are grateful to the thousands of Floridians who participated in this historic process and look forward to letting voters have the final say in November.”

Proposed constitutional revisions on the ballot must secure at least 60 percent voter approval to become law. A formal report will be submitted to the Florida Secretary of State as soon as possible. A list of the final revisions approved by the CRC are provided below; the full text of each revision is available on flcrc.gov:

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ABOUT THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION (CRC)

Once every 20 years, Florida’s Constitution provides for the creation of a 37-member revision commission for the purpose of reviewing Florida’s Constitution and proposing changes for voter consideration. The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) meets for approximately one year, traveling the State of Florida, identifying issues, performing research and possibly recommending changes to the Constitution. Any amendments proposed by the CRC would be placed on the 2018 General Election ballot. For additional information, visit flcrc.gov. Follow the CRC on social media @FloridaCRC (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube).

CRC website, press release: http://www.flcrc.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/1099

CRC official photo March 2017

Pensacola Dreamin’, P91 No Oil or Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Seas, CRC

Landing in Pensacola For years, I have had a reoccurring dream.

I am looking up at an absolutely blue and cloudless sky; white, sparkling sands are hot beneath my feet; and crashing waves of emerald green, mesmerize…

Blue. White. Green. This is all there is. This is the vision, the dream. And it is real. These are my memories of living at Pensacola Beach.

Pensacola Beach

More than twenty years later, I am not dreaming. I am back, and I am fighting for CRC proposal 91, “no oil or gas drilling in Florida’s territorial seas,” our state waters.

Full text, etc. P91 CRC website: (http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017?billNumber=91&searchOnlyCurrentVersion=True&isIncludeAmendments=False&pageNumber=0)

2-26-18, Pensacola News Journal, Kevin Robinson, “Public Support Could End Drilling:” https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.pnj.com/amp/367909002

In the early 1990s, I came to Pensacola from UF in Gainesville, to teach German and English at Pensacola High School in both the traditional and International Baccalaureate Program.

I learned perhaps as much as my students. It was hard and rewarding work. I matured here one could say.

My mom, me and Dash mid 1990s

Maturing didn’t just involve the discipline of being a teacher, but also the responsibility of my first dog. “Dash,” as he was named for his ability to sprint. Dash was a stray I found in Downtown’s Seville Square. He was as beautiful and white as Pensacola Beach with black spots over his eyes. Even my parents visited to meet him!

Every evening he sat by my side for hours as I graded papers long into night. I would leave at 6 am for the first bell at 7:01. When I got home from a day of teaching, Dash and I would swim at Pensacola Beach or take long walks to Fort Pickens and then of course, grade papers,

These were wonderful times! The powerful simplicity of the blue sky, the green waves,  the white sands, and my white and black best friend, forever left an impression on me.

Though I have been back home in Stuart, and Sewall’s Point, in Martin County for over twenty years, my life has changed, and Dash has passed away–Pensacola still holds my heart. Nothing compares to its white sandy beaches and how could I forget? Its longest of Florida histories! http://news.wfsu.org/post/pensacola-discovery-complicates-title-oldest-city; https://www.visitpensacola.com/things-to-do/history-heritage/

Hopefully we will continue to make history in Pensacola today.

Pensacola will be the linchpin in convincing the CRC to support P91 to go on the 2018 ballot: “No Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Seas:” please attend today’s public hearing at UWF from 1-7 pm to speak. Read here for details. 😎 http://www.northescambia.com/2018/02/constitution-revision-commission-to-hold-pensacola-public-hearing-tuesday 🇺🇸🐬

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner for the 2018 CRC, the former mayor of Sewall’s Point, and an environmental activist

http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

What Are the 37 CRC Proposals that Could be on the 2018 Florida Ballot?

Constitution Revision Commission 2018 official website: http://flcrc.gov and official list of the 37 proposals: http://flcrc.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/CRCActiveProposalsHearings2018.pdf

 

Below is a list and very scant summary of each of the 37 proposal that made it through the Constitution Revision Commission committee process, and thus it is now possible for any one of these to get on the 2018 Florida ballot.

Presently, continuing almost one year of work, the CRC is holding public hearings and you are invited to attend!  http://flcrc.gov/Meetings/PublicHearing with focus on these 37 issues.

After the hearings the full CRC will decide on the 37…

As there is no easy way on the web site to find the 37 proposals, one can use the following list just to get an idea of the proposal topic. 1.) For complete information go to http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner, 2.) then click the link under “Number” on far left side. 3.) Once a new screen comes up, click on “web-page” or “PDF” to read the language of the proposal. It is important to read the entire proposal to understand it in full.

Also, there is the possibility that a proposal that was voted on– and did not pass committee–could be resurrected. These are not on this list.

Thank you for your involvement in the great state of Florida! I hope this list is useful.

Jacqui

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner for the 2018 CRC
http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Subject of proposal:

P3 Deleting language on prohibiting land ownership by “aliens” ineligible for citizenship

P4 Deleting language barring funds from public treasury to aid church, sect, or religious denomination…

P6 …judges may not defer to administrative agency’s interpretations of statute, must interpret de novo

P9 Veteran’s Affairs/Executive Branch language

P10 Civics education in public schools

P11 Closing the Write in Candidate loophole that closes Open Primaries as specified already  in Florida constitution

P12 Deleting amendment for high-speed train as it was already repealed by amendment

P13 Requiring every county (charter/non charter) to elect constitutional officers: sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser and supervisor of elections

P20 Repeal of criminal statute shall not affect prosecution for any crime committed before such repeal

P26  Office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism is created within the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement

P29 E-Verify-deals (with immigration/business)

P33 All counties must appoint superintendents rather than vote for them

P34 “Clean-up” provision of Dec. of Rights (language)

P37 Only allows for buildings to be named for individuals after they have left office

P39 Must wait six years after leaving position of elected office in to lobby legislature

P41 Retirement age for judges would go from 70 to 75

P43 Would create an 8 year term limit for school board members

P44 University tuition increases would require “more votes” making it more difficult to increase tuition

P45 “nothing” may limit “other” education services —in addition to free public schools

P47 Certain judgeships would require 10 years of Florida Bar membership

P49 Benefits for surviving family members of first responders killed in duty

P50 A candidates for state legislature must live in district he or she is running for…

P54 Certificate of Need – can no longer limit number to given to an area…(i.e. hospitals/Hospice)

P55 Legislature pays off fees for clerks’ offices —where those fees are not taken by county residents

P65 Vaping added to constitution on “smoking in workplace”

P66 Lt. Gov would have official “duties”

P67 Banning betting on greyhound dog racing…

P71 Nothing may limit the legislature from creating alternative processes to authorize the establishment of charter schools…

P72 2/3 vote required of legislature to raise taxes or fees

P83 Specifies the purposes of the state college system and provides for a governance structure

P88 Bill of rights for nursing home residents

P91 Would ban oil and gas drilling in Florida’s state waters

P93 Would authorize school boards in high performing school districts to become “charter districts”

P94 Would allow funds from Statewide Tobacco Education and Prevention Program to go to cancer research

P96 Marcy’s Law- victims’ rights

P97 Not voting on constitutional amendment would be counted as a “no”- makes threshold to pass constitutional amendments more difficult for public

P103 Specifies dates for legislature to convene for regular session –second Tuesday after the first Monday in January of each even-numbered year

 


	

Let’s Make History! “No Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Seas”~ Florida ballot 2018

This past Wednesday, I presented, P91 or “No Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Seas” to the Declaration of Rights Committee of the Constitution Revision Commission. This was the second and final committee hearing and it passed! My other four environmental proposals were “killed”…

To be clear, as it is confusing, there are coastal territorial seas and there are offshore federal waters. This proposal would protect our territorial seas, our state waters, the waters under our jurisdiction. These waters have been drilled before and, hands down, if the oil and gas industry can, they will influence our state legislature so that they can drill our coastal waters again. There is no doubt about it. Just study history!

We all know, drilling so close to shore, as is done in other coastal southern states, would be visually, environmentally, and economically destructive to Florida’s unique/peninsular marine, real estate, and tourism resouces.

It is written in Article II of our state constitutional that “we shall protect our natural resources and scenic beauty.” P91 belongs in Florida’s Constitution. It would be an enormous statement on behalf of the people of Florida and would have major policy implications on many levels helping to keep all oil drilling away from our state today and in the future.

P91 is now one of 37 proposals of 103 that made it through the CRC committee process.

Today I am publishing the notes from my presentation that should be interesting and informative to readers.

Thank you for following the CRC process and I will keep you appraised of P91 as the CRC process continues and we move towards what gets on the ballot for 2018.

In the end, we must do something for our environment!

Fondly,

Jacqui

P91, presentation Declaration of Rights 1-31-18

Greetings Chair Carlton and Honorable Commissioners; I am Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch  from the Town of Sewall’s Point in Martin County.

This morning, I am pleased to be presenting P91, also known as, “no oil and gas drilling in Florida’s territorial seas.”

~So you may ask,“ what are Florida’s territorial seas?”

The boundaries of Florida’s territorial seas are based on the foresight of our forefathers who expanded the boundaries of Florida, accepted into Florida’s Constitution in 1868 during the era we rejoined the Union. These boundaries are defined as: three marine leagues, or approximately 9 miles, on to the west coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and extending as far as the shifting Gulf Stream, or three miles east, which ever is further, into the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s east coast.

The US Code defines Florida’s territorial seas as three marine leagues on the west cost, and three miles out on the east coast.

Most of us have forgotten our history, but in 1944 Florida sold “everything hugging the shore out to 10.36 miles, from Apalachicola to Naples,” on the Gulf Coast to Arnold Oil Company. These lands consisted of of 3.6 million acres.

After decades of embittered fighting, unsuccessful exploration, and a movement to end the leases, in 1989 the Florida legislature banned oil and gas drilling in Florida’s territorial waters and stopped collecting lease money from the oil company that had the rights to these leases lands.

The battle ensued over time and party lines, but in 2002 Governor Jeb Busch with the help of his brother, the president of the United States, arranged for the oil company to accept 12.5 million state dollars to “abandon all further claims.” This transaction was finalized by 2005 with great fanfare of the public that was ecstatic to have Florida’s beautiful beaches and important natural resources “off the table.”

And yet by 2006 there were rumblings and by 2009, there was even serious talk of a bill on the floor of the Florida Legislature allowing for drilling within five miles of Florida’s west coast. Once again, tremendous pressure to reopen Florida’s territorial seas!

In 2010 the nightmare of the BP Deepwater Horizon really took this possibility off the table for discussion, but we must not be naive, especially in the current climate, this threat to our shores is still there!

Today, you as Commissions  of the Constitution Revision Commission have a chance to make history by voting “yes” on P91 “no oil and gas drilling in Florida’s territorial seas,” giving the possibility for Floridians to put language into our state constitution in 2018 that would protect Florida.

Let’s make history.

1868 map
Florida’s territorial seas
Gulf Stream

Links:

P91 CRC http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0091

Herald Tribune 2009 http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090926/News/605227437

Florida Trend 2009 http://www.floridatrend.com/article/5050/revenue-vs-environment

Earth Justice, David Guest,  2009:https://earthjustice.org/blog/2009-september/oil-drilling-axis-targets-floridas-offshore

Offshore Magazine, Destin Dome: http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/print/volume-57/issue-3/news/exploration/eastern-us-gulf-of-mexico-destin-dome-may-yet-revive-eastern-gulf-of-mexico.html

Blake Plateau, Florida’s east coast is under partial currents of the Gulf Stream: http://edcon-prj.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/G1094_ocean.jpg

USGS Blake Plateau https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/0659/report.pdf

CRC Analysis 2 http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0091/Analyses/2017p0091.pre.dr.PDF

______________________________

The next phase of the CRC is public hearings; there is a hearing in Ft Lauderdale tomorrow. After the public hearings the final proposals will be chosen to go on the 2018 ballot.
http://flcrc.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/1071

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the 2018 CRC, all comments are public record:  http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Florida Channel’s taping of prevention: Thank you to those who spoke in favor of the proposal. https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1-31-18-constitution-revision-commission-declaration-rights-committee/

Article 11 Sec. 1 of our constitution defines Florida’s boundaries. Our forefathers had foresight in doing this. Our boundaries are much more extensive than other coastal sates. May we have the same foresight in expanding the boundaries to protect or territorial seas.

A Picture Speaks a 1000 Words About Florida’s Governors, CRC

The Florida Capitol is a walk through our state’s history. It’s really worth a visit just to look around. Over most of the walls, hang portraits and pictures that tell the story of our state.

Today, I thought I would feature what I call the “Hall of Governors” that one passes on the way to the Constitution Revisions Commission’s (CRC) headquarters. My photos are taken right to left as I exited the CRC, adjacent to the Governor’s office.

From what I understand, each governor has input into the mood and composition of his, (as there are yet no “her”), portrait. I find this very interesting. Look closely and see what this reveals.

And what shall be our future?

Le Roy Collins 1955-1961
Charlie Crist 2007-2011
Claude Kirk 1967-1971
Jeb Bush 1999-2007
Ruben Askew 1971-1979
Buddy MaKay 1998-1999
Bob Graham 1979-1987
Lawton Chiles 1991-1998
Wayne Mixon January 3, 1987-January 6, 1987
Bob Martinez 1987-1991

Governor portraits, Florida Dept. of State:
http://dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-history/florida-governors/

List of Florida governors: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Governors_of_Florida

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

“Florida, the Land of Enchantment?” Then Re-fund Florida Forever. P46, CRC


Recently, I convinced my husband, Ed, to come up to Tallahassee with me for the “State of the State” reception at the Governor’s mansion.

It was very exciting; however, we had waited in line for almost an hour, to shake hands with the Governor and First Lady, when a secret service man told me we weren’t going to make the cut. The line was cut off one person in front of me!

“You’re kidding? That’s a bummer.” I thought. “Maybe they’ve had enough of my controversial Constitution Revision Commission environmental proposals? Perhaps I’ve been put on the Affiliated Industries of Florida’s blacklist? Just chance? Hmmm. I can handle it, but poor Ed!”

I tried to negotiate with the secret service man. He was not budging.

While I moped, Ed seemed unaffected, rolled his eyes, smiled, and headed for the bar.

I, on the other hand, could not let go. I was determined to have the Governor see me, or for me to see the Governor, so I moved as far to the front of the room as I could.

When I was right up with the crowd surrounding the Governor, I saw an empty chair. I didn’t see any secret service men staring at me, so I sat in the chair. I could see everything!

But, right at that moment the Governor, First Lady, and crew made a quick exit, and I was sitting there in my black dress, and fake fur, trying to look cool, gazing purposely at a book on the side table.

It was beautiful, very old, and entitled,”Florida Land of Enchantment.” Old-fashioned keys covered the historic book’s fading green face. I stared at it thinking about how the mystique of Florida is “what built Florida.” And how that historic mystique was, and remains, built on the enchantment of Florida’s lands.

Well, Ed and I didn’t get to shake hands with the Governor or First Lady, but I got to see this magnificent book and I’ll never forget it.

This Friday, at 11:00 am, my fourth CRC proposal, P46, or Land Acquisition Trust Fund, goes before the CRC Legislative Committee. The goal of P46 is to have a very needed conversation and to clarify language in Article X, Section 28 of Florida’s Constitution (Amendment 1, 2014) and direct the state legislature to deposit no less that one third of the revenue, not to exceed 300 million annually, into the Florida Forever Trust Fund. This money would go specifically to conservation land purchase as prioritized by the long standing and once “always funded” Florida Forever program.

I already know, there are many reasons, and many conspiracy theories, about why the state legislature has stopped funding Florida Forever. And no matter what occurs at the CRC meeting, the proposal will not be self-executing. We cannot force the legislature to spend money a certain way. That is their prerogative, a power that is derived for them alone from the state constitution.

But a strong message can be sent. A directive can be given. And shouldn’t they listen? They should.

How many years has that book been sitting by the table? Governors and legislatures will come and go, but if “Florida, the land of enchantment,” is to remain, we must continue to invest in Florida Forever.

Florida Forever: https://floridadep.gov/lands/environmental-services/content/florida-forever

Legislative Meeting, CRC: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/

Back Up, After a Triple Knockout, CRC January 11-12, 2018

Face down on the dike at Lake Okeechobee, photo Ed Lippisch 1-15-18

On Monday, I had Ed drive me to the lake. I needed to see it face-to-face, and be reminded of why I am driven to protect Florida’s environment.

It was a beautiful, chilly, day and as I lay on the warm earth, soaking it all in, Ed snapped a photo. I laughed when I saw it, thinking it summarized my experience at the Constitution Revision Commission last week in Tallahassee.

A triple knock out.

But I am back up, and today will fill you in on last week, and note what remains possible for the future.On Thursday, January 11th, I presented two proposals to the Executive Committee; a committee upon which I serve. Both proposals were voted down.

They were: P 24, “Creating a Commissioner of Environmental Protection,” and P48, “FWC/Wildlife Corridors.”

I presented right after highly respected, former Senate President, Don Gaetz, who spoke in favor of a making the Secretary of State, once again, a cabinet position.

We were both voted down. The committee had no tolerance for expanding the executive branch in any form.

Exec. Committee Florida Channel: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1-11-18-constitution-revision-commission-executive-committee/

On Friday, I awoke to torrential rains and cold temperatures, rushing to make it in the darkness by 8:00 am to stand before the Judicial Committee, finally, for a vote on controversial, Gunster-attorney-fought, and widely reported P23, “A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment.” It was voted down by every member of the committee as it would have created  a new “cause of action,” and given citizens standing, regarding environmental claims, in a court of law. In the committee’s opinion, P23 would have caused a Florida litigation nightmare.

For me, the lack of prioritization for the environment, the over-protection of permit holders, and the “buddy-agency-system,” holding it all in place, is already causing a “nightmare;” thus, I was all for a change and in favor of this student-inspired proposal that spoke for what the CRC is supposed to be speaking for—-its citizens.

In any case, it was quite a lesson for me, bleeding my heart out, and getting denied. I was not embarrassed, just kind of numb. I must say, it was very kind, and I appreciated that many of my comrades complimented my efforts and encouraged me to continue my fight, right before the knock-out punch. 🙂

Judicial Committee meeting, Florida Channel: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1-12-18-constitution-revision-commission-judicial-committee/

Thank you to reporter Jim Turner, from the News Service of Florida, who stood with me afterwards as I mumbled trying to find words to instill inspiration in my defeat. His article is a good summary:

Jim Turner, New Service of Florida: http://sunshinestatenews.com/story/controversial-crc-environmental-proposal-dead

So, I have two of my five proposals still alive.

P48, “Clarifying Language Amd. 1, 2014, Land Acquisition Trust Fund” and

P91,  “No Oil and Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Waters”

No dates have been set to hear these proposals, but in the meanwhile, I am back up on my feet and getting ready for the next round. I know it will come. I have been studying one of my favorite boxers, Sugar Ray Leonard, who was a favorite of my students in Pensacola, for some moves. I’m going to be ready!

Thanks for you support and for your love of Florida’s environment.

Jacqui

JTL is a member of the Constitution Revision Commission 1018.  See Jacqui’s sponsored proposals and CRC webpage here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Ed on the dike with Bo and Luna, Lake Okeechobee 1-15-18
I’m standing….
S-308 at Port Mayaca, the awful ACOE structure that allows water in from Lake Okeechobee that destroys the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; note color of water even in winter, video below.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the 2018 Constitution Revision Commission; she was appointed by Senate President Joe Negron: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

What’s Up With Me and the CRC? January 2018

Image via WTSP: http://www.wtsp.com/news/politics/florida/whos-behind-fls-constitution-revision-commission/477559159

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.

And finally…

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.

Rainbow over the Atlantic Ocean. (Jensen Beach, 2-8-15, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)

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

CRC Proposal #91, No Oil and Gas Drilling, Yes or No?

OILED SCARLET IBIS – “Notes on a Disaster.” Lindsay Carr created this painting in response to the BP Gulf Oil Spill and auctioned off in support of the clean up operation. In the style of John James Audubon.

CRC Proposal #91, No Oil and Gas Drilling, Yes or No?

This coming Thursday, December 14th, I will be presenting CRC proposal #91 to the General Provisions committee, the committee I chair. For the presentation and vote, I will be turning this part of the meeting over to Vice-Chair, Emery Gainey as is proper form. Just as with any other proposal, #91 needs your support! Please write the members of the committee here to make your support and concerns known or attend the meeting and speak briefly during public comment: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/GP/

With every passing day, I feel more strongly about this proposal. As we are witnessing right now, long-standing, pristine lands across our country are being tapped for oil and gas. Florida’s tourist, beach, and water-economy, and its abundant coastal wildlife, demand there is no oil and gas drilling in the territorial waters of the state.

Please see my blog post on this topic, and thank you for your support: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2017/11/16/time-for-floridas-constitution-to-say-no-to-coastal-oil-and-gas-drilling/

  CRC - 2017                                                  P 91
       
       
        
       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00106-17                                      201791__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction
    4         in specified coastal waters.
    5          
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8  
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II                            
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS                        
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) To protect the people of Florida and their environment,
   27  oil drilling for exploration or extraction is prohibited in and
   28  beneath all state waters between the mean high tide line and the
   29  outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas. This
   30  prohibition does not apply to the transportation of oil and gas
   31  products produced outside of such waters. This section is self
   32  executing.
Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico. Images of disaster, AP 2010.

CRC Proposal #46, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, ~Clarifying Language in the Constitution for Ignored Citizen Initiative, Amendment 1, of 2014

Adams Ranch, wild turkey in the shade of oak trees, photo courtesy of the late Bud Adams, St Lucie County.

CRC Proposal #46, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, ~Clarifying Language in the Constitution for Citizen Initiative, Amendment 1, of 2014


I will present proposal #46 to the CRC Legislative Committee this Wednesday. You can support this proposal, or express your thoughts on the issue by writing the members of the Legislative Committee: https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/, or by attending the meeting and speaking briefly during public comment. The Chair is Jose Felix Diaz.

Please see the link for my blog post on this proposal: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2017/11/14/2014s-amendment-1-ignored-clarifying-intent-for-the-legislature-in-floridas-constitution/

In summary, it is to clarify language so that funds do not include agency salaries, risk management costs, the purchase of vehicles, etc…and clearly states that “no less than one-third of doc-stamp revenue must be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund.”

   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.

 

CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen… but not a Corporation”

A mullet jumps at sunset, St Lucie River, photo taken by my brother Todd Thurlow

CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen of the State of Florida, but not a Corporation”

Next week,  the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will once again be in committee. Today, I will provide an update of proposal #23, “A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment” and new thoughts:

#23 will be heard, December 12, 2017, between 1-5pm in the Judicial Committee. You can write committee members to support this proposal here or speak during public comment: (http://flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/)

This proposal was already “presented” to the Judicial Committee on November 28th, 2017, just over a week ago. As mentioned, on December 12, it will go before the committee once again, but this time is will be voted upon.

If the proposal passes through the Judicial Committee, the next stop will be the General Provisions committee. If it passes the General Provisions Committee, the proposal will go before the entire CRC for a vote to determine if it will go on the 2018 ballot.

In spite of tremendous opposition from Affiliated Industries of Florida who hired four, high-powered, Gunster attorneys to speak in opposition to the proposal, along with the Florida Chamber and others, I thought the November 28th presentation went great. As I had hoped, students were a part of the presentation for the proposal with Kai Su, a law student from Stetson University, who helped research the proposal, and the founders of the River Kidz sharing their public policy paper written on the subject for a duel enrollment class at Indian River State College.

I presented briefly myself, but had to leave the meeting early to run my own. Later, when I watched the Florida Channel’s video and saw the idealistic young people juxtaposed to the hard-edged lawyers, and self-focused business interests, I knew the proposal had been successful in spite of whatever its final outcome…

—#23, a proposal that would give more standing in a court of law to citizens of Florida over the all-powerful state agencies and those hand-picked by them to benefit from holding and executing “environmental” permits. Many members of the Judicial Committee asked hard and insightful questions to the attorneys, and I am deeply appreciative of their serious involvement and interest in the subject.

*You can read about the original submission of  #23 here: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/adequate-provision-is-not-enough/)

*You can see the Judicial Committee meeting at the Florida Channel here:
https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/112817-constitution-revision-commission-judicial-committee/

*Stetson newsletter: http://www.stetson.edu/law/news/index.php/2017/11/29/student-presents-environmental-rights-supporting-clean-healthy-environment-amendment-florida-constitution-tallahassee/So…this coming Tuesday, I will again go before the Judicial Committee, but this time for a vote. From the beginning of sponsoring this proposal, I knew that the language and the idea would be controversial; but I had no idea to the degree. What was most important me was to find a proposal I supported from the public (#700450) and to sponsor it.

I was taken with this particular proposal because it was a collaboration of students and their professors from Barry and Stetson University. As a former eighth and ninth grade teacher, I liked the idea of youth being involved. The decisions made through the CRC process are indeed meant to be forward thinking for the next twenty years. Youth should be part of this conversation.

One thing is certain, this proposal has struck a chord. I am proud of that. I am proud for the young people for the conversation this proposal is inspiring. I also believe we must ask ourselves why were four Gunster attorneys hired, costing hundreds of dollars per hour, to speak against this CRC proposal? Is it because it would shift power from the legislative and executive branches of government to the judicial branch ~causing a more balanced “scale of justice?” It is because if #23 “A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment” were to go on the ballot, it would likely pass?

Of course if would. The people of Florida do want a right to a clean and healthful environment; feel like environmental interests have been kicked to the curb; and should as taxpaying citizens of the state of Florida have fair standing in a court of law. Is this really asking too much?

Student Kai Su pointed out that the language is “subject to the reasonable limitations as provided by law.” This would not be a litigation free for all, but rather the judicial branch would decide certain issues considering the present laws on the books. Right now this is not really a possibility. People have to sue together under groups like the Sierra Club. Use the Federal Clean Water Act. It’s so hard, individually, people don’t even try.

Why shouldn’t citizens have standing on their own? As mentioned, the present scale is tipped so that state agencies, talking direction from the executive and  legislative branches, have full authority to give protection to polluters under Florida Statues 403.412 (e), and the Florida Constitutions is so vague –offering only “adequate provision” it is really useless. Today, the Department of Environmental Protection joyfully gives out permits to corporations and business entities while the concerns of the people of Florida’s are mostly ignored.

*(Florida Statutes 403.401 https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2013/403.412 provides  citizens rights  and then nullifies all in section e. )

I recognize that Great Dragon and its armies are against this proposal, but I see the light.  I see the faces of the young people and their desire for the their children and grandchildren  to be able to jump into a clean river or spring; catch a fish they can eat; hold the miracle of a seahorse in the palm of their hand; to feel the speed of boating without contaminated toxic algae spray against their face.

Kids in Florida springs, photo courtesy of John Moran.

Before Tuesday’s meeting I felt it was important to try to compromise, so I did reach out.  I asked a representative from the opposition if there was any common ground we could work on together for future generations. I waited a few days for an answer. The answer was there was no interest in any part of this proposal going into the Florida constitution…

Hmmm…

I think will go forward the best I can with proposal #23 . Head up…My job is to herald this through for future for future generations. And although rejected in compromise, we will ameliorate the language to strike the words: scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the that most concerned the opposition and rewrite “any person” to read:

“Any citizen of the state of Florida, but not a corporation, may enforce this right against any party, public or private, subject to reasonable limitations as provided by law.”

Because every citizen does have the right to a clean and healthful environment.

Kids jumping near Sandbar, Martin County, Fl. photo shared Barbara Osbourne
____________________________________

Original proposal:

  CRC - 2017                                                  P 23



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00038-17                                      201723__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         establish that every person has a right to a clean and
    4         healthful environment.
    5
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (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.

CRC original proposal #23: https://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

AIF Press Release regarding CRC proposal #23, expression concerns: http://www.aif.com/information/2017/pr171127.html

*Thank you for the many emails I have received from every-day people in  support on Proposal #23! Here are a couple:

St  Lucie River at sunset, photo by Todd Thurlow.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Judicial Committee 12-12-17. You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by writing the Judicial Committee here: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/

Follow #23 here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023

Find all committees go here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here: http://www.flcrc.gov

Time for Florida’s Constitution to Say “No” to Coastal Oil and Gas Drilling

A bird covered in oil after the Deep Water Horizon explosion, 2010. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.
Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of Associated Press,  2010.

When I moved to Pensacola Beach, Florida to teach high school in the early 1990s, I was surprised to see that the local community was marching in the streets protesting oil drilling. “Lucky we don’t have to do that in South Florida,” I thought. Here it is over 25 years later, and I am writing about why the Florida Constitution should say “no” to oil and gas drilling off all Florida beaches.

The final Constitution Revision Commission (CRC: http://flcrc.gov) proposal I am sponsoring is #91: “A proposal to amend Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction in specified coastal waters.”

This proposal came to my attention through Mr Manley Fuller, the president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, and well-known Tallahassee attorneys Patsy Palmer and Sandy D’Alemberte. This once “citizen initiative” was filed with the Secretary of State and supporters had begun to collect signatures.

As you may know, in Florida, one way the public has a right to propose amendments to Florida’s Constitution is through a citizen initiative petition process. The process is very expensive and incredibly arduous. Some, over time, are successful.

What I have learned in my time, this year, serving as a Constitution Revision Commissioner is that the five different ways an idea can get into the constitution are all connected. (The 5 ways: http://www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/ConstAmends.pdf)

For instance, an idea may start in the legislature and fail; so someone turns it into a citizens initiative years later, and that may not get all the signatures it needs; so the CRC rolls around and someone like me picks it again! And so on…Getting changes into Florida’s constitution is a “process.” If the idea has importance for voters, it’s about keeping the ball  in the air!

With the possibility of the federal government getting closer and closer to opening oil drilling off all Florida, and every newspaper writing about this in the state, we must be aware that some members of our State Legislature have forgotten or were not here for the Deep Water Horizon disaster. They see oil and gas drilling as a positive.  The time is now for Florida voters to make a constitutional statement that it is not.

http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/06/06/should-the-government-allow-seismic-testing-for-oil-deposits-off-floridas-atlantic-coast/

Before I close, Let’s ask ourselves: how do drilling rights work anyway?

Oil drilling leases are complicated and they involve all levels of government. The Federal Government’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act  govern federal jurisdiction over submerged lands on the Outer Shelf.  However, the Submerged Lands Act of 1953 grants individual States rights to the natural resources of submerged lands from the coastline to no more thane 3 nautical miles. Florida, though, due to foresight those before us, is an exception.  Our boarders are defined in our state constitution in Article 11 Section 1, to include the eastern edge of the ever-moving Gulf Stream, or three miles off, what ever is further, and 3 marine leagues into the Gulf of Mexico (almost 10 miles). This is much more than most states get! Voters could make this language even stronger.

As always it will be a balance, a fight, between powers, but having a strong Florida Constitution will help tremendously in holding our own. As a peninsula at sea surrounded by beaches that bring in billions of dollars, and define the mystique of the state, oil and gas drilling is not a benefit here. The risk it too high; it’s simply is not worth it.

“No” to Coastal Oil & Gas Drilling”  #91: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0091

       CRC - 2017                                                  P 91



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00106-17                                      201791__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction
    4         in specified coastal waters.
    5
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) To protect the people of Florida and their environment,
   27  oil drilling for exploration or extraction is prohibited in and
   28  beneath all state waters between the mean high tide line and the
   29  outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas. This
   30  prohibition does not apply to the transportation of oil and gas
   31  products produced outside of such waters. This section is self
   32  executing.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner. This proposal has not been referred to a committee yet, but you can support is by writing any of the commissioners, especially the Chair, here: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

In this file photo made June 3, 2010, a brown pelican covered in oil sits on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Florida’s Outer Continental Shelf: https://www.boem.gov/Outer-Continental-Shelf/

Florida Senate Legal Issue and State Authority Related to Territorial Waters: http://archive.flsenate.gov/data/Publications/2008/Senate/reports/interim_reports/pdf/2008-142ju.pdf

Pensacola News Journal 2017: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2017/10/19/dont-open-eastern-gulf-mexico-offshore-drilling-guestview/780605001/

Panama City: http://www.newsherald.com/news/20170816/our-view-deadline-for-comment-on-drilling-is-now

Tampa Bay Times: http://web.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/trumps-executive-order-on-offshore-oil-drilling-sets-up-clash-with-florida/2322047

Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article147492219.html

* As of 11-20-17: This proposal has not yet been referred to a committee/s; it should be within a few weeks: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Adding “Wildlife Corridors” to the Florida Constitution, Giving FWC Broader Authority to Protect Wildlife Habitat

Photo courtesy of Sightseeing Miami

“We must prioritize fish and wildlife habitat connectivity in future.” Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation, http://www.fwfonline.org

The Florida Wildlife Commission could have more authority to protect wildlife should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #48 be introduced on the 2018 ballot. This proposal, submitted by Cape Coral environmental legend, former service member, teacher and school principal, Mr Carl Veaux, would amend Section 9 of Article IV of the Florida constitution “to provide that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall exercise the regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to habitats, including wildlife corridors…”
Full text proposal # 48: http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0048/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

Before I continue, I would like to state that I have sponsored Mr Veaux’s public proposal, #801227, that is one of thousands of proposals, many addressing wildlife and conservation issues, that were submitted to the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and brought to the attention of the commissioners during the public hearings.

Mr Veaux, though, stood out. He was very persistent in his communications with me. I came to learn through his multiple calls and emails something that I had not listened hard enough to hear. When he sensed my fatigue, Mr Veaux informed me, “…don’t you know, I speak for the animals.” I woke up.

I am also supporting this proposal because there is a need to define “wildlife corridors,” and work through the controversial details. We must step up and do this, as a CRC body, because protecting wildlife corridors in our constitution is the most logical and effective way to address and direct wildlife conservation for future generations.

~As the Florida Chamber reports, Florida is twenty million strong, and six million more people are coming by 2030. Florida’s time has arrived. Our land, waters, and natural habitats are “of the essence…” The next CRC will not come for another 20 years. We must now do something for wildlife and the environment. (http://www.flchamber.com/did-you-know-that-floridas-population-could-increase-to-nearly-26-million-by-2030/)

Visit Florida Wildlife Corridor: http://floridawildlifecorridor.org

So just in case you do not know, what is a “wildlife corridor” is anyway…To animals, lands that are not connected for travel, territory, food, shelter, raising young, and “socializing” are not as valuable as those lands that are CONNECTED.

You may have been exposed to this terminology through “The Florida Wildlife Corridor?” In my opinion, The Florida Wildlife Corridor is the most impressive conservation effort happening in Florida today. You can learn about its ambitious goal to connect lands throughout Florida by clicking on the link above.

Years ago, I heard through the grape vine that Attorney General Pam Bondi likes this program. Although I have never asked her about it, every time I walk by her office in Tallahassee I notice the most beautiful eagle painting hanging in her office. A clue!

For larger  image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Now for the Florida Wildlife Commission also known as FWC: http://myfwc.com;

(http://myfwc.com/about/overview/programs/mission-benefits/)

The Florida Wildlife Commission is part of the executive branch; they are an executive agency. Their board members are appointed by the governor; however they are very independent. Their mission is to “managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.”

So how would this work to affect the the constitution?

According to Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.org) the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates with Florida Constitutional authority to regulate direct impacts to fish and wildlife including protected species. For state Threatened species, they can require minimization or mitigation for impacts to the habitat of species that are designated as state Threatened, but there is no comprehensive way for them to engage on threats to the habitat of not-yet-listed species, or impacts to habitat that individually may not cause take to threatened species, but cumulatively will cause tremendous harm.”

The protection of wildlife cannot be accomplished without protecting their habitat; this amendment would give FWC the authority they need to achieve the work they’ve been tasked with. And that authority would extend to corridors needed by certain species.

So the proposed change would simply allow, but not require, the seven person appointed FWC to establish rules and permits limiting impacts to habitat in the same way they currently establish limits on impacts to individual animals.

Proposal #48 belongs in the constitution. There will be a things to work out, there always are but I think “we’re covered.”  When I asked Mr. Veaux, who is 79 years old, if he could come to Tallahassee to speak on the issue, he said not, “Tallahassee is a long way, but that should not be a problem the wild animals all over the state are spreading the word!”

http://www.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/page/content.detail/id/611218/Cape-environmentalist-honored-by-Audubon.html?nav=5011

Proposal #48  is sponsored in honor of Mr Carl Veaux

Savannas State Preserve, St Lucie County, JTL
Wildflower, Savannas State Preserve, JTL
A wonderful photo of a Black Bear, public.
Wild turkeys are very important to Mr Veaux. He speaks of the Osceola Turkey and their importance to Florida’s economy as many tourist/hunters come to hunt or see the bird. Of course, land is necessary for the birds’ success. Photo public.
Wildflower Savannas State Preserve, Martin County, FL. JTL
The belle of the ball! A gorgeous snowy egret, a bird once close to eradication during the 1800/1900s bird-feathers/ladies-hat fashion-craze. The thoughtless destruction of birds and leaving the their young to die was the inspiration for Florida Audubon that was founded  in Maitland, Florida and remains one of the major influences in conservation today.
Silver Springs area, Ocala, Florida, JTL
Stillness of nature. Silver Springs area, JTL
Roseate spoonbills and many other water birds feeding! Photo courtesy of Everglades Trust website.
Eagle pair, Martin County, Florida, Dr Scott Kuhns.

FWC is part of Article IV, Executive, in Florida’s constitution : http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner, *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee November 28th. You can support this proposal by writing the Executive Committee here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

2014’s Amendment 1 Ignored! Clarifying Intent for the Legislature in Florida’s Constitution

Everyone has heard the story….Florida voted 75% in favor the 2014’s citizen’s initiative,  “Amendment 1,” and once it was in the constitution, the hard-earned constitutional amendment was “ignored” or “reinterpreted” by the state legislature…

In 2015 the Tampa Bay Times wrote: “Few betrayals of the public trust have played out so openly and brazenly as the Florida Legislature’s fraudulent effort to implement Amendment 1, the land-buying measure that three-fourths of voters overwhelmingly approved five months ago. This should be a banner year for protecting the state’s endangered lands. Instead, Amendment 1 is becoming a bait-and-switch that would take Florida back — not forward — in saving its natural resources.” (http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-legislators-ignore-voter-intent-on-amendment-1/2227235)

As a commissioner for the Constitution Revision Commission for 2017/18, (http://flcrc.gov) I have sponsored proposal #46 to help fix this issue. Brought to my attention by long time Martin County Native Plant Society member, Mrs Joan Baush, and crafted together with policy advisor, Sue Mullins, and environmental legend, Clay Henderson, this proposal follows at least seven others submitted to the CRC on the subject, not to mention the numerous requests of multiple speakers during the Constitutional Revision Commissions’ statewide public hearings.

The purpose of proposal #46 (originally public proposal #700705) is to “clarify that a percentage of doc-stamp tax revenues will be devoted to the purchase and care of scientifically selected and publicly supported land and water areas for the purposes of conservation.”  An explanation, and the proposal are below. To support, please write members of the Legislative Committee, where this will first be heard: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/

The CRC comes around only every 20 years, and is one of five ways Florida can amend its constitution; thus the time is now! Let’s get this clarified!

Land Acquisition Trust Fund Amendment

Section 28, Article X

Explanation

Purpose

This proposed Amendment to S. 28, ART. X is to clarify that a percentage of doc stamp tax revenues will be devoted to the purchase and care of scientifically selected and publicly supported land and water areas for the purposes of conservation.

Background

  1. On November 4, 2014, Florida voters approved the Florida Land and Water Conservation Amendment 1 by 75%.
  1. But the 2015 Legislature determined that the broadness of the measure already allowed them to spend the earmarked revenue of a wide array of programs through the Land Acquisition Trust Fund—some not at all environmental in substance—as well as supplant existing agency operations funding with the “new” Amendment 1 dollars.
  1. The measure was designed to dedicate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, where it was assumed its namesake Land Acquisition Trust Fund would denote the purpose and intent of the amendment to acquire and manage environmentally sensitive land.
  1. Because the drafters of Amendment 1 used the Land Acquisition Trust Fund as the receiving account (thinking it would be obvious the intent for the use of funds), without specifying an amount strictly dedicated to land acquisition, they allowed for all expenditures provided in s.375.041, F.S. governing use of funds for the LATF, which at the time, allowed for virtually anything the Legislature wanted to fund.
  1. Once the measure passed by an overwhelming 75% of the Florida electorate, supporters assumed that at least $300 million annually would be devoted to the Florida Forever program. The amount, over 20 years, was thought to finish the job of securing the lands necessary to protect our natural resources, drinking water, habitat and industries such as agriculture and tourism.
  1. That did not happen (see below.).

 

What this Amendment Does

  1. The intent of this new Land Acquisition Trust Fund Amendment to S. 28, ART. X is to clarify that a percentage of doc stamp tax revenues will be deposited into the Florida Forever Trust Fund to purchase and care for scientifically selected and publicly supported land and water areas for the purposes of conservation.
  1. The proposal simply amends language passed in 2014 as the Land and Water Legacy Amendment 1 by depositing the earmarked funds in an appropriate Trust Fund and clarifying the purposes for use of those funds.
  1. A specified amount, no less than one third of the revenue deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, is earmarked for deposit into the Florida Forever Trust Fund as it existed in law on January 1, 2017.
  1. This language recognizes that the LATF and other doc stamp-funded accounts should continue to have a suitable amount of revenue to support existing programs such as Springs and Everglades protection, beaches, and local government water projects.
  1. More specificity has been provided in the new amendment by striking the phrase “and improvement” to ensure that Florida Forever funds are spent per the science-based regimen contained within statute (s. 259.105, F.S.), and by adding the phrase “natural” to the type of resources authorized for expenditure.
  1. This Florida Forever Amendment will fix the issue to provide funding to accomplish a majority of Florida’s conservation work through dedicating a set amount each year (depending on revenue, from $175 to $300 million) to be spent according to current statute governing the proven, science-based, willing-seller Florida Forever program.

Implementation of Original Amendment 1

  1. In 2014, a broad coalition of environmental, business and civic leaders proposed the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, which became Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution. The intent was to recapture the annual amount of funds devoted to land conservation by earmarking a third of the revenue from the doc stamp tax and depositing it into the Land Acquisition TF for the purposes of buying, managing and restoring environmental lands. The measure passed by 75% of voters.
  1. But the Legislature interpreted and appropriated Amendment 1 spending to include agency salaries, IT, risk management insurance, agency vehicles and other non-conservation uses.
  1. The statute has also since been amended to accommodate implementation, per legislative judgement of Amendment 1, to include dedicated funds for Everglades restoration, Springs protection and spending on a broad array of programs and agency expenses.

Historical Context

  1. Florida had a long and distinguished history of scientifically targeting and purchasing the right lands for conservation and recreation purposes since the 1970s, throughout both Republican (Martinez, Bush, Crist) and Democratic (Graham, Chiles) administrations.
  1. Those lands today provide most of the natural resources to support our drinking water supplies, food crops, economic activities and attractive recreational destinations.
  1. The annual funds devoted to Florida Forever had been $300 million, usually issued in bonds paid back by revenue from the documentary stamp tax. Creators of the land programs specifically used the doc stamp tax for its revenue source in order to tie land acquisition to sales in real estate, since all land sales in Florida were assessed a documentary stamp tax.
  1. In 2008, the Legislature discontinued funding for the state’s land conservation program, Florida Forever, citing a poor economy.
  1. Once the economic recovery took hold in Florida, where the state economy in 2013 led the nation in job growth and overall recovery (per University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith in his first quarter economic forecast on March 25, 2014), it was assumed that the state conservation program funds would be replenished.
  1. Since 2010, the Legislature has declined to fund the non-regulatory approach to environmental protection through land acquisition. Funding for the Florida Forever program has not been reinstated.
  1. The Florida Forever program is hugely successful and is the most often-copied land conservation program in the country. It is based on a scientific analysis of which lands in Florida hold the most natural resource value—those that help cleanse water or purify air, create habitat for fish and wildlife, create corridors for the movement of native plants and animals across the landscape and support the water and wildlife necessary to keep our agricultural, tourism and quality of life intact.
  1. Under its conservation programs, the state has protected almost 5 million of its 37.5 million acres. Together with federal conservation lands, almost 9 million acres is in some form of public management, although thousands of those acres belong to the state corrections and management services agencies, military bases and universities, and are not managed for conservation.
  1. The state has identified an additional 2.2 million acres that should be conserved in some form from conversion to more intensive uses. That doesn’t always necessitate outright full-fee purchase of the property, but could be accomplished using a combination of purchase and conservation easements across large corridors of working lands such as ranches to provide habitat and water resource protection.

Expected Support

  1. Dozens of speakers addressing the Constitution Revision Commission during its public hearings voiced their frustration and disappointment with the Legislature’s use of Amendment 1 funds, and appealed for a fix to the issue to accommodate their intent to fund the land acquisition program.
  1. This new Land Acquisition Trust Fund Amendment is likely to pass by at least 75% of the electorate, even with paid opposition. Previous polls taken by the Florida Chamber have shown 78% support statewide, despite opposition from various anti-conservation groups.
  1. Virtually all news outlets endorsed 2014 Amendment 1 and are already writing of their support for a fix that will finally codify the will of Florida voters.
  1. Some counties, including Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie, voted more than 80% in support of Amendment 1. Even inland rural counties supported the measure by a vote of at least 40% in support (see map at beginning of this post.)

Florida Constitution: To read the present language go to Article X, “Miscellaneous,” Section 28, “Land Acquisition Trust Fund:” http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

CRC Proposal #46 is linked and below: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0046/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

  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.
Sunrise over Florida’s “Waters of the State,” SLR/IRL region.

Jacqui thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner of the Constitution Revision Commission; contact her at link or via this blog post: http://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

*This proposal was schedule to go before the Legislative Committee on 11-29-17 but has been postponed. Chances are it will go through in December. It must clear Legislative and General Provisions. You can write members of these committees to support or express concerns at any time: http://flcrc.gov/Committees

A Commissioner of Environmental Protection; A New Day, Voting Florida’s Environment a Seat at the Table

Sunrise St. Lucie River 1-29-16, John Whiticar.

A new day could dawn for Florida, should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #24 go on the 2018 ballot. This ballot initiative would allow the electorate to vote for  a “Commissioner of Environmental Protection.”

I sponsored this idea, an idea brought to the CRC’s attention by two speakers during the public hearing process, as well as by public proposal #700012, submitted by Mr. Gamez.

Formally expressed Proposal #24 reads:

“A proposal to amend Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and create a new section in Article XII of the State Constitution to establish the office of Commissioner of Environmental Protection as a statewide elected officer, to provide duties of the commissioner, and to include the commissioner as a member of the Cabinet.”

Full Proposal #24: (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

Why do I support this idea? Because it is my job as a commissioner to get some of the thousands of public ideas before the CRC, and because I believe the “time is now” for the Environment to have a seat at the table with other cabinet positions.

Yes, environmental protection of natural resources must rise to the top of state priorities just as the state’s oldest and number two economic driver, agriculture, has.  Our Natural Resources must be represented in the Florida Cabinet. This year, the Florida Chamber reports that Florida’s population, now at 20,000,000 will reach 26,000,000 by 2030, in just twelve years! It is tourism that is Florida’s number one economic driver. Much of this success  is  based on the beauty and quality of our beaches, rivers, and springs, and natural lands. We all know, growing incidences of algae blooms in lakes, springs, and rivers, some in areas of natural lands,  is not good for tourism.

For best image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Let’s look at Florida government’s present hierarchy having to do with natural resources and discuss why it should be changed. The state’s present organizational chart shows a Commissioner of Agriculture as a cabinet position just under and to the right the Governor; a Fish and Wildlife Commission, and a  Department of Environmental Protection, as executive agencies under the executive branch of the Governor;  and the Water Management Districts in the lowest tier as  local government. Interestingly, the Water Management Districts are attached by a dotted line to the Department of Environmental Protection noting at “unique relationship.” This is qualified by the following sentence: “Water management districts have individual governing boards but the Department of Environmental Protection may exercise general supervisory authority over water management districts (s. 373.026(7), Florida Statutes).”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission much more independent, but the Water Management Districts are not. Because Water Management Districts levy taxes from citizens as a special district one must be cognizant  so that they not become “arm of the state.” But what would be even worse would be if the Water Management Districts were not answering to the people they tax…

Hmmmm?

It is time to have a “lead agency.” An agency that can answer to the people.

Let’s discuss leadership. Right now there is no clear environmental protection leader. For instance, in my opinion, for a citizen trying to get answers about why our environment is falling apart the Water Management Districts are pointing in one direction; the Department of Water Quality for the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Best Management Practices is pointing in another; and because the present Department of Environmental Protection is at the whim of politics of every new administration; they are weak, and afraid to lead. With every new governor the pendulum swings. The DEP is unable to fulfill its mission as the state’s lead agency of environmental protection.

And all the while our environment keeps falling apart…

On a personal note, for years, here in South Florida, I complained about the demise of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and surrounding environment and pushed for more action on behalf of the South Florida Water Management District.  After years of head nods, I was finally told by a Governing Board member that the District’s number one priority is not water quality, but flood control and that I should be speaking to DEP.

“Why didn’t you tell me that earlier,” I exclaimed.

When I contacted Department of Environmental Protection their response was lackadaisical noting that many entities of the state oversee water quality and environmental issues. For instance, Best Management Practices for Agriculture, and the complicated DEP Basin Management Action Plans/Total Maximal Daily Loads in coordination with the Water Management Districts, and all local governments including cities, counties, villages…

“But who is in charge?” I asked? “The St Lucie River has been labeled “impaired” by your agency since 2002. Why was it allowed to get that bad in the first place and why is it continuing to get worse?”

Again I asked, ” Who is in charge?”

There was silence…

I thought to myself,  “No wonder the Department of Environmental Protection is sometimes  referred to as the agency of “Don’t Expect Protection.” No wonder every year more of the state’s waters are reported as “impaired.” No wonder D.E.P., Agriculture, and the Water Districts collude to extend the Basin Management Action Plan deadlines instead of getting more serious about the detrimental ramifications of non-point pollution for the people.

Enough is enough. The time is now to give voters the opportunity to vote for a  Commissioner of Environmental  Protection and finally have a seat at the table.

This homemade chart shows a Commissioner of Environmental Protection being created from the present Dept. of En. Pro.

Proposal #24

The commissioner of environmental protection shall have
   63  supervision of matters pertaining to environmental protection
   64  that the Department of Environmental Protection or its successor
   65  agency and water management districts are required or authorized
   66  by law to implement and administer.

Full text:  (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

____________________________________________________

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee sometime in December or January. If it gets through that committee it will have to make it through both General Provisions and Ethics and Elections.  You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by first writing the Executive here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Follow here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024 

Find all committees here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

Links:

Commissioner of Agriculture/Dept of WQ: Best Management Practices: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Water/Agricultural-Best-Management-Practices

Department of Environmental Protection: https://floridadep.gov

Florida’s Water Management Districts: https://floridadep.gov/water-policy/water-policy/content/water-management-district

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: http://myfwc.com

Florida Chamber Water: (http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/water-solutions/)

Florida Chamber Tourism: (Tourism:http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/tourism/)

_________________________________________________

Recent pictures of our Florida environment  that are NOT  good for tourist!

Alan Youngblood, Florida Springs, -when too much water is taken from the aquifer by permitted users it affects the health of Florida’s springs, 2013.
St Lucie River, toxic algae bloom brought into river from discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Best Management Practices and Basin Management Action Plans are not working fast enough. Tourism suffered in Martin County by millions of dollars in lost revenue and health issues for local citizens. 2016, JTL
Algae pouring in from Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River at S-80—this water comes mostly  from polluted Central Florida waters; obviously DEP’s environmental protection is not working. 2016.

_________________________________________________________

screenshot 2.png

Learn about:

THE FLORIDA CABINET

http://cabinet.myflorida.com

In 1998 the Constitutional Revision Commission proposed a rewrite of Article IV, Section IV of the Florida Constitution that reduced the Florida Cabinet from six elected officials to three. Effective January 7, 2003, the Florida Cabinet consists of the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture. The Cabinet offices of Secretary of State and Commissioner of Education became appointed offices and their respective agencies became the responsibility of the Governor. The revised constitution also created a new State Board of Education with seven members appointed by the Governor to oversee the Department of Education. The Cabinet offices of Treasurer and Comptroller were merged into the new position of Chief Financial Officer who serves as agency head for the newly created Department of Financial Services.

 

“Adequate Provision” is not enough, Strengthening Florida’s Constitution, SLR/IRL

St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, (Photo Jenny Thurlow Flaugh)

Florida’s constitution is important, not only because it is the ultimate law of the state, but because it sets the people’s values before the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. These words are a reference in times of question and must be clearly written on the side of the citizen.

Right now, in Article II, Section 7, (a) “Natural resources and scenic beauty,” the Florida constitution reads: 

(a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for the conservation and protection of natural resources.
Because this language is vague, ( what is adequate provision? ), and case law is sparse, these words become “overruled” by Florida Statute that clearly gives “permit holders” standing over citizens, and of course the environment making the present environmental protections in the state constitution “inadequate.”

Florida Statues, Chapter 403. 412. e.) reads:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2013/403.412

No action pursuant to this section may be maintained if the person (natural or corporate) or governmental agency or authority charged with pollution, impairment, or destruction of the air, water, or other natural resources of the state is acting or conducting operations pursuant to currently valid permit or certificate covering such operations, issued by the appropriate governmental authorities or agencies, and is complying with the requirements of said permits or certificates.”

So a citizen is not at liberty to sue if a polluting entity is causing environmental destruction that is acting or conducting operations pursuant to a currently valid permit protected by a state agency. And if someone attempts to sue anyway, they have no real standing in a Florida court of law.

Hmmm?

~But, what if a sinkhole spanning 45 feet opened at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer facility leaking 215 million gallons of “slightly radioactive water,” but this news did not get to the people who have wells in the area for weeks?

~What if the Army Corp of Engineers, and the South Florida Water Management District knew they were discharging billions of gallons of toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee into a community’s river making some citizens sick, yet there was no discussion, warning, or health notices posted until the entire ocean ran green?

~What if an entity could withdraw so much water from a spring or aquifer that….

What if, is now reality.

Yes, permit holders should be “protected,” nonetheless, having a valid permit should not be a right to infringe on the health, safety, and welfare of Florida citizens. Florida citizens and their environment co-exist. When necessary, citizens should have the right to fight for a clean and healthy environment.

We all know that many of Florida’s waters are “growing greener,  and more toxic.” This was recently reported by TCPalm’s Jim Turner:

“The 2016 report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows a mixed bag for the state’s waters, with many trending toward more-frequent toxic algae blooms, fueled by rising nitrates from farm and residential fertilizers, sewage, pet waste and other human-related sources.”

Florida’s “impaired” waters are growing, not decreasing. More springs, rivers and lakes are in horrible condition. We see it. Like it or not, the only way to ensure an “adequate” future for Florida’s citizen’s and her waters is to find a way to create acceptable language giving people a constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

CRC - 2017P 23By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00038-17                                      201723__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         establish that every person has a right to a clean and
    4         healthful environment.
    5          
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8  
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II                            
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS                        
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.--
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms "Everglades Protection
   24  Area" and "Everglades Agricultural Area" shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (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.
Proposal #23 was a public proposal. It was created by Traci Deen and her students at Barry University. I sponsored their publicly submitted proposal #700450. There were other proposals also on the “rights of environment/nature” topic including 7000672 by Richard Silvestri; 7000216 by Trevor Tezel; 700739 by Richard Grosso; —submitted to Article 1, Declaration of Rights, 700558 a Florida Environmental Bill of Rights by Paul Laura;  and the Rights of Nature submitted independently by Mr. David Hargrove. Thank you to all and the many others!
If you have any ideas or would like to comment, please write me directly at jacqui.lippisch@flcrc.gov or at this blog post.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the Constitution Revision Commission 2017/18
http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

*This proposal will go before the Judicial Committee on November 28 and if it makes through that committee it will go through the General Provisions committee. You can write committees here to support or express concerns:
http://flcrc.gov/Committees

11-8-17

For the Record, What I have filed so far, Constitution Revision Commission, SLR, IRL

go grassroots jacqui - Version 2

For the record, I would like to report what I have filed, so far, as a member of the Constitution Revision Commission 2017/18.

I have filed two “proposals.”

The first is a “public proposal” (a public submission/language exactly as proposed) entitled: “Floridians’ right to a clean and healthful environment.” This proposal elevates a clean and healthful environment to a right, such as now stated in the Florida constitution: “to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess, and protect property…” It adds a “clean and healthful environment” symbolically to our highest legal level, our constitution. Right now, the proposal also proposes to give Floridians more standing in a court of law if they have experienced special injury (economic loss) due to environmental destruction of their property. I think the wording can be ameliorated, made more preventative, and less litigious, other states have achieved this and kept their goals in place. Nonetheless, the present language remains a good place to start the conversation.

My second proposal is a “commissioner proposal,” (a proposal with my wording/with help of staff) entitled “to Establish a cabinet position for a Commissioner of Environmental  Protection.” Yes, I believe the environment should have a seat at Florida’s most important table. Presently, the Florida cabinet consist of the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer, and  the Commissioner of Agriculture. These elected public servants make decisions at the top-level with the Governor and are elected, not appointed. They lead the state. I strongly feel that a statewide elected Commissioner of Environmental Protection should exist alongside these others and not be buried under the executive branch with no clear accountability as is presently the case. “Elected and answering to the people,” not to the politics of the state; this is my goal.

The process?

Well, the first proposal, “a right to a clean and healthy environment” has been voted on by the full CRC to move forward to committee. The second will move forward as commissioner proposals do automatically.

But that’s just the beginning!

Soon, Chair Beruff, will determine what committees these proposals will have to be “heard in.” There could be one, or many. If the proposal makes it through committee, it could come out exactly the same, be amended, or die. There is a way to resurrect such later on if it does get killed, but this requires a majority vote and is no easy feat. Nonetheless, it is a possibility. The best thing is to try to get it through committee so the full commission can vote on.

The political process will take its course, and the people will be heard.

It is an exciting time for me, and I plan on submitting other proposals too, but these two, my first, are my priorities.

Below are my two proposals and other information you may find helpful. If you have questions or concerns please write me at jacqui.lippisch@flcrc.gov. I am here to discuss.

Sincerely,

Jacqui
Constitution Revision Commission website: https://www.flcrc.gov
Learn about the 5 ways Florida’s constitution can be revised. The CRC is one of those ways! http://lwvokaloosa.org/AmendingFLConst.html

   CRC - 2017                                                  P 23
       
       
        
       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00038-17                                      201723__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         establish that every person has a right to a clean and
    4         healthful environment.
    5          
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8  
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II                            
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS                        
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (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.
   CRC - 2017                                                  P 24
       
       
        
       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       
       thurlowlj-00025A-17                                     201724__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and create a new
    3         section in Article XII of the State Constitution to
    4         establish the office of Commissioner of Environmental
    5         Protection as a statewide elected officer, to provide
    6         duties of the commissioner, and to include the
    7         commissioner as a member of the Cabinet.
    8          
    9  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
   10  Florida:
   11  
   12         Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV of the State Constitution
   13  are amended to read:
   14                             ARTICLE IV                            
   15                              EXECUTIVE                            
   16         SECTION 3. Succession to office of governor; acting
   17  governor.—
   18         (a) Upon vacancy in the office of governor, the lieutenant
   19  governor shall become governor. Further succession to the office
   20  of governor shall be prescribed by law. A successor shall serve
   21  for the remainder of the term.
   22         (b) Upon impeachment of the governor and until completion
   23  of trial thereof, or during the governor’s physical or mental
   24  incapacity, the lieutenant governor shall act as governor.
   25  Further succession as acting governor shall be prescribed by
   26  law. Incapacity to serve as governor may be determined by the
   27  supreme court upon due notice after docketing of a written
   28  suggestion thereof by four three cabinet members, and in such
   29  case restoration of capacity shall be similarly determined after
   30  docketing of written suggestion thereof by the governor, the
   31  legislature or four three cabinet members. Incapacity to serve
   32  as governor may also be established by certificate filed with
   33  the custodian of state records by the governor declaring
   34  incapacity for physical reasons to serve as governor, and in
   35  such case restoration of capacity shall be similarly
   36  established.
   37         SECTION 4. Cabinet.—
   38         (a) There shall be a cabinet composed of an attorney
   39  general, a chief financial officer, a commissioner of
   40  environmental protection, and a commissioner of agriculture. In
   41  addition to the powers and duties specified herein, they shall
   42  exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be
   43  prescribed by law. In the event of a tie vote of the governor
   44  and cabinet, the side on which the governor voted shall be
   45  deemed to prevail.
   46         (b) The attorney general shall be the chief state legal
   47  officer. There is created in the office of the attorney general
   48  the position of statewide prosecutor. The statewide prosecutor
   49  shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the state attorneys to
   50  prosecute violations of criminal laws occurring or having
   51  occurred, in two or more judicial circuits as part of a related
   52  transaction, or when any such offense is affecting or has
   53  affected two or more judicial circuits as provided by general
   54  law. The statewide prosecutor shall be appointed by the attorney
   55  general from not less than three persons nominated by the
   56  judicial nominating commission for the supreme court, or as
   57  otherwise provided by general law.
   58         (c) The chief financial officer shall serve as the chief
   59  fiscal officer of the state, and shall settle and approve
   60  accounts against the state, and shall keep all state funds and
   61  securities.
   62         (d) The commissioner of environmental protection shall have
   63  supervision of matters pertaining to environmental protection
   64  that the Department of Environmental Protection or its successor
   65  agency and water management districts are required or authorized
   66  by law to implement and administer.
   67         (e) The commissioner of agriculture shall have supervision
   68  of matters pertaining to agriculture except as otherwise
   69  provided by law.
   70         (f)(e) The governor as chair, the chief financial officer,
   71  and the attorney general shall constitute the state board of
   72  administration, which shall succeed to all the power, control,
   73  and authority of the state board of administration established
   74  pursuant to Article IX, Section 16 of the Constitution of 1885,
   75  and which shall continue as a body at least for the life of
   76  Article XII, Section 9(c).
   77         (g)(f) The governor as chair, the chief financial officer,
   78  the attorney general, the commissioner of environmental
   79  protection, and the commissioner of agriculture shall constitute
   80  the trustees of the internal improvement trust fund and the land
   81  acquisition trust fund as provided by law.
   82         (h)(g) The governor as chair, the chief financial officer,
   83  the attorney general, the commissioner of environmental
   84  protection, and the commissioner of agriculture shall constitute
   85  the agency head of the Department of Law Enforcement.
   86  
   87         A new section is added to Article XII of the State
   88  Constitution to read:
   89                             ARTICLE XII                           
   90                              SCHEDULE                             
   91         Recomposition of the cabinet; commissioner of environmental
   92  protection.—The amendment to Section 4 of Article IV relating to
   93  the election of the commissioner of environmental protection and
   94  the inclusion of the commissioner as a member of the cabinet
   95  shall take effect January 3, 2023, but shall govern with respect
   96  to the qualifying for and the holding of the primary and general
   97  elections for the office of commissioner of environmental
   98  protection in 2022.

Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch’s CRC webpage:
Appointed by President
Committee Assignments

General Provisions, Chair
Executive

Proposals Introduced
P 0023 GENERAL PROVISIONS, Natural resources and scenic beauty
Last Action: 10/19/2017 Filed
P 0024 EXECUTIVE, Commissioner of Environmental Protection
Last Action: 10/19/2017 Filed

Biographical Information
Occupation: Former Middle and High School German and English Teacher; Presently, Licensed Realtor, Lifestyle Realty Group
City: Town of Sewall’s Point (Martin County)
Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch was born in 1964 at Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, California. She is a Daughter of the American Revolution, Florida Blue Key member, a lifetime resident of Martin County and member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch’s mother is a third-generation Floridian and statewide recognized historian. In 1952, Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch’s New York grandfather founded Thurlow & Thurlow, P.A. in Stuart, which specializes in real estate, and continues today as a family run business. She is married to William E. Lippisch, D.M.D./Oral Surgeon and general aviation pilot. They are well-known on the Treasure Coast for taking thousands of aerial photographs documenting the effect of destructive discharges from Lake Okeechobee on the health of the St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. She shares these photos on her blog entitled “Indian River Lagoon,” which educates thousands of people. Jacqui is a former teacher with years of classroom experience instructing middle and high school students. She continues to work with youth through “River Kidz,” a division of the Rivers Coalition that has also helped promote and inspire efforts to find solutions to the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch is a former Mayor (2011-2012) and Commissioner (2008-2016) of the Town of Sewall’s Point and has served in other various public service and leadership capacities, including: Vice-Chair, Treasure Coast Region Planning Council (2016); Chair, Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments; Treasure Coast Florida League of Cities (2008-2016); Chair, Florida League of Cities’ Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Legislative Committee (2013); Board member, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation, Florida Atlantic University (2013-2016); and Rivers Coalition Defense Fund (2011-present).

Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch holds a Bachelor of Arts, Journalism & Communications, University of Florida, 1986; Bachelor of Arts, German, University of Florida, 1994; and Master of Arts, Curriculum and Development, College of Education, University of West Florida, 1999. She also graduated from the UF/IFAS Natural Resources Leadership Institute, Class XV, 2016.

Helpful links for learning about the CRC:

Florida Constitution: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

http://revisefl.com

https://www.facebook.com/ProtectFLDemocracy/

https://protectfldemocracy.org

https://www.floridabar.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ada-florida-constitution-revision-commission-brochure.pdf

CRC in the Classroom ~Educating Future Voters

My second period 8th grade English class at Stuart Middle School, 1999.

Part #3 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) and how to get involved, by CRC Commissioner, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 8-30-17.

CRC in the Classroom ~Educating Future Voters (http://flcrc.gov)

The teachable moment….

Sometimes it only comes around every twenty years!

As a former educator, I believe the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a great opportunity to get young people directly involved in the sometimes far-away process of government. Knowing that someone “who can directly affect their lives” is listening on the other side is a tremendous motivator for students.

For instance, when I taught eighth-grade persuasive and expository writing, I had my students address their essays to Mr. Tony George who served on our local school board. After a classroom discussion about what a school board was, and what these board members do, the students wrote in their very best handwriting applying similes, metaphors, quotes, and first-hand experiences in an effort to persuade Mr. George to consider allowing gum-chewing, letting up on the dress code, providing more activities and after school sports … basically, any subject of their choice.

I was amazed at the increased motivation of the young people once they knew they were really writing to “somebody” and not “just writing.”  The highlight of the experience was when Mr. George in red pen commented on each of the papers, and later, personally, returned them to our classroom having written his own persuasive essay in response. I read it aloud and the students noted his use of technique in the persuasive arena.  It was fun! Without even realizing it, students learned about local government, politics, and most important, became motivated to express themselves in writing.

The Constitution Revision Commission of 2017/18  provides an even greater opportunity to give students an impromptu real-world civics lesson about the role of state constitutions and the difference between state and federal government. To get started, you can follow these steps for your lesson plan:

 

  1. Introduce the CRC at gov noting that the Florida Constitution is up for review.

 

  1. Introduce students to the chair and commissioners, the people they will be writing:        gov/Commissioners.

 

  1. Review the Florida Constitution’s twelve articles and selected sections:  gov/Constitution.

 

  1. Remind students that if they are thirteen years old today, in twenty years they will be thirty-three! Put students in groups to brainstorm and discuss what they think will be most important to the state over the next twenty years, and have them figure out what article and section of the constitution their proposal or ideas fits best.

 

  1. Show students how they can create their own proposals, applying their best English class skills, by using tools on the CRC website to redact or add language: gov/Proposals/Submit.

 

  1. The deadline being considered for public proposals is September 22, so please submit ideas soon! Student proposals can be submitted on-line gov/Proposals/Submit, emailed to the commission at admin@flcrc.gov, or sent in the mail to: Constitution Revision Commission, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399. If there is not a particular commissioner your class wishes to write, you are welcome to address them to me.

 

I hope you’ll get your classroom involved. Real-world learning is so effective and fun. Of course, the main motivator is that getting involved with the CRC is a rare, teachable moment, that only comes around once every twenty years!

Me with my first period Pensacola High School 1993, English Class. (Photo courtesy of photography teacher at PHS.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do I Submit My Idea for a Constitutional Amendment to Florida’s CRC? SLR/IRL

How do I submit my idea for a constitutional amendment?

Part #2 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) and how to get involved, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 8-21-17

How Do I Submit My Idea For a Constitutional Amendment to Florida’s CRC?

Now is your opportunity to give input on Florida’s constitution

The Florida Constitution belongs to the people of Florida and is the foundational document of our state government. In that same spirit, I am issuing an open invitation to all interested Floridians to get involved in the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). Don’t be afraid! The CRC is for you, the public.

Although the words “Constitution Revision Commission” may sound intimidating, the process is not. Getting involved is easy, and you have many options to share your comments, ideas, and proposals with the CRC.

As commissioners, our job is to examine the Florida Constitution and propose changes for voter consideration on Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot. During this process, we consider proposed constitutional changes submitted by Floridians.

*PUBLIC PROPOSAL FILING DEADLINE (SEPTEMBER 22): The CRC is considering September 22 as the deadline to submit public proposals. Many have already been submitted. We encourage all interested Floridians to submit their proposals as soon as possible!

The commission  wants to hear about issues that matter most to Floridians, and there are steps you can take to ensure you submit a compelling proposal that best articulates your position. When creating a proposed change or idea for the Florida Constitution, I suggest you conduct personal research and follow these six (6) steps and see links below:

1. Decide if there are issues that you think the state legislature is ignoring or not putting enough emphasis upon – something so important that it would need to be in our state constitution versus other areas of state or local law.

2. Review Florida’s state constitution. It consists of 12 articles and is available online at flcrc.gov/Constitution. After reviewing, decide which section of the state constitution is most relevant to your specific issue.

3. Review concise and clear writing procedures, such as “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk. There are also many free resources available online. 

4. Go to flcrc.gov/Proposals/Submit to create a free account and submit your proposed change to the Florida Constitution. The online tool allows you to create your proposal using legal language by redacting or adding language. Remember to keep it simple and clear.

5. Using the same program, submit your proposal to the CRC and sign up for the alert emails. Commissioners will review proposals and determine which proposals should be considered to be placed on Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot.

6. You can advocate for your proposals by contacting CRC Commissioners directly via email or phone (flcrc.gov/Commissioners). Better yet, attend a public hearing if one is scheduled in your area at a future date (flcrc.gov/Meetings/PublicHearings).

Remember, the CRC wants your involvement and the process is meant for you! If you do not want to use the online submission tool you can also email the CRC at admin@flcrc.gov or send us your proposal in the mail at the following address:

Constitution Revision Commission
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Thank you for getting involved and for caring about the great state of Florida!

Links:

Florida constitution: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

The Elements of Style: http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/style.html

CRC, Submit a Proposal: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Submit

Contact individual commissioners: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners

Public Hearings: https://www.flcrc.gov/Meetings/PublicHearings

CRC website: http://flcrc.gov

Previous post, “What is the CRC Anyway?” https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/crc-what-is-it/

What is the Constitution Revision Commission Anyway? SLR/IRL

Part #1 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) and how to get involved, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 8-11-17

Attendees at a CRC public hearing show their approval by displaying a green card.JTL

Who or what is the CRC?

Have you heard about Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what it is. Apparently according to a Florida Bar contact, of new members polled in 2017, only 19 percent knew what it was! This makes sense perhaps, as it only convenes once every 20 years.

So what is it anyway?

The Constitution Revision Commission, or CRC for short, is a powerful entity composed of 37 members that meets to examine the Florida Constitution and propose changes for voter consideration. It’s powerful because any constitutional amendments proposed by this entity go directly onto Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot. Thirty six members – or Commissioners as they are called – are appointed by the (15) Governor, (9) Senate President, (9) House Speaker and the (3) Florida Supreme Court Justice. The (1) Attorney General is automatically a member.

(The Florida Constitution: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3)

I am proud to serve as a Commissioner on the CRC, and for the past few months I have been traveling across the state along with other commissioners to encourage Floridians to share their ideas regarding the Florida Constitution, and boy they have! Over 800 ideas or proposals have  been submitted so far this year. (https://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Public)

Although thousands of Floridians have come to meet with us at public hearings, we have a lot more work to do to ensure citizens understand the CRC and know more about this historic process. Therefore, I am writing this blog series.

When and why was the CRC created?

The CRC formally came into being in 1968 when it was created by Article XI, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution. The CRC was part of several changes ratified by Florida voters that year, during an era when Florida was under great pressure for reform.

In the years leading up to the 1968 changes to the Florida Constitution, many  believed that the legislature was not adequately representing voters. For many years, state politics had been dominated by a group of lawmakers known as the Florida “Pork Chop Gang,” who held disproportionate influence and power in north Florida although the majority of the population now lived in the central and southern parts of the state. They held on to their power at all costs.

This disproportionate power and influence began to crumble following a 1962 federal law suit entitled Baker vs. Carr, that determined “…redistricting issues enabled federal courts to intervene in state redistricting cases.” As Florida was held to be in violation of representative districts, in 1966, Florida’s legislature was federally dissolved and all members had to “go home” and later run under newly-created districts. Can you image! After re-election, representation from Florida’s highly populated cities was prominent for the first time.

The “reapportionment revolution” of the 1960s established the principle of “one man, one vote.” Change doesn’t come easy. It was tumultuous time with the Civil Rights Movement; desegregation of schools; women’s rights; the Vietnam War; the counterculture movement; and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, and later civil rights legend, Martin Luther King Jr. among others – – broadcast on the new medium of television– made “it” impossible to ignore.

In unison with the aforementioned upheavals, and “seeing the writing on the wall,” the Florida constitution was being updated from its archaic 1885 amended version, that remained in use, to something more “representative.” The state legislature had created the 1965/66 Constitution Revision “Committee” to research and make recommendations of reform to the legislature.  Thus the CRC was born! It was that early “CRC” that put forth the idea of a bi-decade Constitution Revision “Commission.” It was soon after approved by the state legislature in landmark changes of the 1968 legislature and the “new” constitution.

The “every 20 year CRC” remains unique to Florida.

In closing, beloved Chesterfield Smith, chair of the 1965-68 legislative constitution revision committee, had a lot to be proud of, but it was the CRC he considered the diamond of his efforts.

Chesterfield Smith, chair CRC 1968

“It is my own personal judgement that above all other matters, the new provisions in the 1968 Constitution authorizing means for further constitutional law changes are the most important things in the new constitution.” – Chesterfield Smith

We may ask, “why did Chesterfield Smith think the CRC, part of the provisions authorizing further constitutional change, was such an important legacy?”

It was an important legacy because Mr Smith and other leaders who lived through that unforgettable era wanted to ensure that such times, and a constitution so out of step with the people, would never happen again!

2017/18 CRC

Stay tuned!

See link for 2017/18 members, as nicely summarized by AIF: http://aif.com/crc/members.html

In upcoming posts, I’ll discuss how the CRC has evolved over time and how Floridians can get involved. For now, learn more at www.flcrc.gov, which includes an online submission tool that allows you to create and submit proposed constitutional amendments to the CRC. The proposed deadline for accepting proposals is September 22, 2017!

We shall leave our footprints in the sand…

1987/1998 CRCs AIF: http://aif.com/crc/history.html

2017/18 CRC, Florida Bar: http://floridabar.org/public/crc/

C-Sapn Landmark Cases, 1962 Baker vs Carr: http://landmarkcases.c-span.org/Case/10/Baker-V-Carr

The US Constitution Project 1964 Baker vs Simms “One Person, One Vote:” https://www.theconstitutionproject.com/portfolio/one-person-one-vote/

#FLCRC

Constitution Revision Commission, JTL Talk #1, NAACP, SLR/IRL

Tonight I am speaking for the first time in public  as a commissioner of the 2017/18 Florida Constitution Revision Commission. I have been invited to present to the Martin County NAACP. Everyone is invited. I am very excited about this, and am sharing my notes so others who may not be able to attend can also be part.

History NAACP: http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/3-organized/naacp.html

As this entire process is “historic,” I have decided to include this experiences on my blog. Please note this post is “in the Sunshine,” will be archived in my CRC email, and open to the public. All comments made will be public record.

CRC 2018
NOTES FOR NAACP/CRC TALK 6-15-17

I am proud to present to the Martin County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Getting involved in Florida’s 2017/2018 Constitution Revision Commission process will be rewarding!

My name is Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch. My family has been in Stuart since 1952, and I was part of the first desegregated class to attend Stuart’s Parker Annex, known today as J.D. Parker Elementary. I have many friends in Stuart’s black community; I graduated from both Stuart Middle School and Martin County High School.  After graduating from the University of Florida and University West Florida,  I worked as a public school teacher and as a real estate agent.

In 2008, I ran for public office, and after a decade of pubic service as mayor/commissioner of Sewall’s Point, (as well narrowly losing a race for Martin County Commissioner in 2016) I was chosen by Senate President Joe Negron to serve on the 2018 Constitution Revision Commission, or “CRC” for short. Quite an honor! I am very thankful to Senate President Joe Negron for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of Florida and expand my experience.

Today my goal for you is to briefly cover the CRC’s history; discuss the CRC “today;” and review how to submit a proposal to the CRC for consideration to go before the voters as a constitutional amendment, on the ballot, in November 2018.

The handouts cover much more material than I will be able to cover in the next thirty minutes and are excellent resources.

BRIEF HISTORY

The history of the Florida constitution is the history of Florida itself.

I recommend two books: Making Modern Florida, by Mary E. Adkins, and The Florida State Constitution, 2nd Edition, by Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte. Both are great resources on this subject.

The books discuss:

Florida as a territory and entering the union as a slave state in 1845; succession from the Union in 1861, military occupation following the Civil War; the finally “recognized” constitution of 1885 (and its many others!); overcoming the power of the “Pork Chop Gang”;  Reapportionment; and the landmark case of 1962, Baker v. Carr enabling U.S.Federal Courts to intervene in the voting boundaries of the states…

This did happened in 1966,  leading to upheaval and redistricting, creating “modern Florida” and its 1968 constitution that is the basis of Florida today.

So what is the CRC and why does it exist? Why does it happen only every 20 years?

Professor D’Alemberte notes with all the political and social instability of the 1960s, it was born…

in 1965 every effort was made to revise Florida’s constitution when the legislature enacted a statutory CRC, and in 1968 the new constitution had substantial changes relating to the amendatory process. In addition to the two traditional methods of constitutional change: constitutional convention and legislative proposals, the 1968 document added the process of the independent Constitution Revision Commission.

Chair off the 1968 commission, Chesterfield Smith, stated:

“It is my own personal judgement that above all other matters, the new provisions in the 1968 Constitution authorizing means for further constitutional law changes are the most important things in the new constitution.”

The state never wanted to be in a position again like it was in the 1960s having the federal government tell it what to do…

So since 1968, every twenty years, there is the possibility and encouragement, if needed, for constitutional change through the CRC process, so that the voices of the people will be heard and recorded.

(Yes there are other ways too, but this is the most direct, in that amendments go directly on the ballot.)

TODAY’S CRC

CRC Commissioner: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners; CRC full website: http://flcrc.gov

The CRC is made up of 37 people. 15 are chosen by the Governor; 9 by the President of the Senate, 9 by the Speaker of the House; and 3 by the Chief of the Florida Supreme Court; the Attorney General is automatically a member. The chair, one of the governors’ 15,  is Mr Carlos Beruff.

Let’s look at the diversity of the members:

I think it is a good representation for Florida, however, it must be noted that the commission like Tallahassee right now, is predominantly republican.

We can see there are 22 men; 15 women; 14 minorities.  Other notes include 14 attorneys; 5 legislators; 3 former senators, 1 former house representative; 5 other elected officials such as sheriff, clerk, county commissioner, school board member and attorney general; at least 10 educators; including business owners and 3 developers.

Over the past few months, the commission has held numerous public hearings entitled “listening tours” across the state and during this time the public has proposed over 400 unique proposals and 900 all together!

CRC 2018
I will read some of the topics that have come up and the order they were presented during one of the listening tours. Please note I am not going to say if I am for or against. This is just to share so you have an idea of what’s coming up. You can watch all of the hearings on the Florida Channel: http://thefloridachannel.org
Ready?

~Voting rights for ex. felons; Amd. 1 Art. 23, privacy and abortion; Legislature’s failure to implement the 2014 citizen’s initiative, Land and Water Legacy; open primaries; issues with write in candidates; insuring veteran’s health; clean water and air as a right; more solar energy; gun rights; gun control; transparency in government; equal rights amendment; right to assisted suicide; right to life; bear hunting; fair districts; non discrimination; independent redistricting; universal background checks/guns; home rule and local government; school choice; support of public schools; term limits for judges; no term limits for judges; cruelty to greyhound dogs/no racing…there are many more!

SUBMITTING A PROPOSAL


In closing, I will share with you how you can submit a proposal and am happy to answer any questions.

An excellent and easy way to submit a proposal is on-line: (above)

(Link for on-line CRC proposals: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Submit)

Just fill out the requited fields and walk through the prompts; you can practice before you publish.

Obviously you must be familiar with state constitution and the area of the constitution that refers to your topic/proposal, or would if it were there. The Constitution can be read by Article on the site or here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

Second, ask yourself what would this change look like in the constitution itself? The wording? After finding the Article and Section, you will  insert, and or redact language for your final product.

Look here to see examples of proposals submitted to the CRC : http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Public

So proposals can be submitted on-line, emailed; US mailed, or turned  in by hand at a public meeting.

Once committees are in place, all proposals will be referred to the correct committee and here it will be  determined if the proposal will go before the entire commission for a vote.

So far there are more proposals than 1978 or 1998 and we are far from the finish line!

To give you an idea of past approval numbers: 1998 CRC, nine constitutional amendments went on the ballot and eight were voted and approved by the public to go into the Florida Constitution. 1978 CRC, not one put on the ballot made it. Back then the threshold was 50%; today it is 60%. The Constitution should not be changed easily!

You, the voters, will decide!

So thank you again, get involved and know I am here to help you with the process of  making sure your voice is heard and Florida’s constitution is relevant, living and real.

Sincerely,

Commissioner, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, jacqui.lippisch@flcrc.gov