Tag Archives: Education

Water Quality Assessment of the St. Lucie River Watershed – Water Year 2017 – DRAFT- Gary Goforth, P.E., PhD. SLR/IRL

Dr. Gary Goforth ready to tour the SLR & Lake O.

It is a journey the state, federal, and local agencies don’t always wish to take–a journey to face the numbers of our watershed…

Today, Dr Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.net) shares his most recent report, “Water Quality Assessment of the St Lucie River Watershed, For Water Year 2017, DRAFT.”

Mind you, for non-scientist people like myself, a “water year” is reported from May of one year, through April the next year, as opposed to a calendar year.

The full report is linked at the bottom of the post and contains numerous helpful charts. I have just included the key findings below.

Dr Goforth wanted to get the draft assessment out before the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s  Basin Management Action Plan workshop scheduled for this Friday Aug. 25th at 10:00 am at Martin County Building Permits Office, 900 Southeast Ruhnke Street, Stuart, FL 34994, Conference Rooms A & B because this is where the rubber hits the road! FDEP: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/central/Home/Watershed/BMAP.htm)

Reflections in the St Lucie River, JTL

Water Quality Assessment of the St. Lucie River Watershed –Water Year 2017 – DRAFT Gary Goforth, P.E., Ph.D.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the Watchers?)

Key Findings:
1. Over the last water year (May 2016 – April 2017), the surface water entering the St. Lucie River and Estuary (SLRE) in general was of poor water quality. The best water quality entering the SLRE was from the highly urbanized Tidal Basins. The largest source of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment pollution to the SLRE was Lake Okeechobee discharges. The C-44 Canal Basin contributed poor water quality, and was the only basin demonstrating a worsening in water quality over the last ten years.

2. It was estimated that stormwater runoff from agricultural land use contributed more flow and nutrient pollution than any other land use, even contributing more flow than Lake Okeechobee discharges.

3. The annual Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) progress reports produced by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection continue to indicate water quality conditions in the tributaries of the SLRE are better than they actually are. Examples of flaws in the BMAP assessment process include the omission of Lake Okeechobee pollution loads, the use of simulated data instead of observed data, the inability to account for hydrologic variability, and the inability to assess individually each of the major basins contributing to the SLRE.

4. An alternative to the assessment approach presented in the BMAP progress reports was developed and used to evaluate water quality conditions of major inflows to the SLRE and to assess progress towards achieving the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) load reduction goals. This alternative approach uses observed data, includes Lake discharges, accounts for hydrologic variability, and is applied to each of the major basins contributing pollution loads to the SLRE. For WY2017, observed nitrogen loads to the SLRE exceeded the Phase 1 BMAP target loads (adjusted for hydrologic variability) by 77 percent. Observed phosphorus loads exceeded the Phase 1 BMAP target loads (adjusted for hydrologic variability) by 53 percent.

5. The largest single source of total nitrogen, total phosphorus and sediment load to the SLRE was Lake Okeechobee discharges. In addition, total phosphorus concentrations in Lake Okeechobee discharges to the SLRE remained almost four times the lake’s TMDL in-lake target concentration of 40 parts per billion (ppb). In 2017, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) reported that phosphorus loading to the lake from surrounding watersheds was almost 5 times the Lake’s TMDL of 105 metric tons, yet staff acknowledged the agency does not enforce permits that set numeric limits on phosphorus discharges to the lake[1] (SFWMD 2016, SFWMD 2017). Unfortunately, despite the continued and well-publicized pollution of the lake, the Florida legislature in 2016 enacted a water bill that pushed back deadlines for achieving the lake’s TMDL by decades (Ch. 2016-1).

6. The best water quality entering the SLRE during WY2017 was observed in the highly urbanized Tidal Basins, with concentrations of 97 ppb and 819 ppb for TP and TN, respectively. Each of the remaining source basins, except the C-44 Canal Basin[2], exhibited a slight improvement in nutrient levels compared to their base periods, however, collectively these WY2017 loads did not achieve the alternative BMAP Phase 1 load target (Figures ES-1 and ES-2). The C-23 and Tidal Basins met the alternative BMAP Phase 1 target for TP, while the C-23, C-24 and Tidal Basins met the alternative BMAP Phase 1 target for TN. The predominantly agricultural C-44 Canal Basin exhibited poor nutrient conditions, and in fact, continued a trend of deteriorating nutrient conditions compared to its 1996-2005 base period. As a whole, the water quality entering the SLRE remains poor, although a slight improvement over the 1996-2005 period was observed.

FULL REPORT below: the complete report can be seen/downloaded from Dr Goforth’s website under “Estuaries and Lake Okeechobee:” http://www.garygoforth.net/DRAFT%20-%20Water%20Quality%20Assessment%20of%20the%20SLRW%20-%20Water%20Year%202017.pdf

Dr Goforth’s website:(http://garygoforth.net)

Army Corp of Engineer Structure S-80 releases water from Lake Okeechobee in the the C-44 Canal that leads to the St Lucie River. JTL
Lake Okeechobee.
basins of SLR/IRL SFWMD

 

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

Finding the “Long-Lost,” Long-Leaf Pines of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

A piece of long-leaf virgin pine from the windowsill of my Grandfather Henderson’s house in Gainesville, FL

Historic post card(s), long-leaf pine logging, courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Grandaddy Russell Henderson as a young man, late 1920s Madison, FL. Family archives.
Like hard resin, stories of long-leaf pine and towering Florida forests are in me. Since my earliest days, I remember visiting my mother’s family and hearing tales around the dinner table:

“In the 1930s your Granddady and Uncle Gordy dove down to the bottom of the Swanee River, chained those sunken water-logged giant trees, pulled them out with mules, put them on a train to Gainesville, milled them, and built this house by hand. Virgin long-leaf pine that had been on the bottom of that river for 90 years became our home. This house is history.”

At the time, the stories were just part of a lifestyle I did not lead living “down” in Stuart, Florida with the Yankees. In Gainesville we ate boiled peanuts, okra, gigantic breakfasts of bacon, eggs, toast, and homemade jelly. In Stuart, I ate Lucky Charms.

Now that I am becoming an old-pine myself, the story of the long-lost, long-leaf pine is more  interesting to me. And “lo and behold,” although public records show the famous long-leaf forest stopping just north of Lake Okeechobee, recently my mother and I learned that they were, indeed, further south, right here in what today is Martin County!

This observation is bases on a 1st hand account of 1910 by J.H. Vaughn in an Abstract of Title for Indiantown, Florida.

Florida State Geological Survey 1927 belonging to my grandfather who worked for IFAS and UF in soil science.

This public photo off the internet gives scope of the size of the long-leaf pines.
In the early days of our country, long-leaf pine forests covered approximately 90 million acres and stretched across the entire southeastern United States. These trees are documented to have stood from 80 to 175 feet tall and many were up to 400 years in age. Of course multiple animals were dependent on the forest for shelter and food and there were massive benefits to the watersheds. The cleanest waters in the world run off of forests. These amazing trees evolved to completely withstand forest fires, actually thriving in such conditions. Imagine if you would these remarkable trees of our Creator, cut to the ground with the same state of mind as today when mowing one’s lawn….By the 1920s only 3% of the forests remained.

Digital Forest documentation of forest loss in the U.S.
So where were these trees in Martin County? Where do we fit into the incredible history of these magnificent conifers? J. H. Vaughn, a lumber man of the 1800s, negotiating a sale states in the abstract of title below:

“…there is an average of 2000 feet of Long Leaf Yellow Virgin pine per acre.. being on the eastern side of Lake Okeechobee…”.

(The Townships and Ranges listed are today’s Indiantown.)

I think it is incredible that we are part of the long-leaf pine odyssey. As today, the Nature Conservancy and people like M.C. Davies have dedicated their fortunes and lives to bringing back this magnificent species and the animal life that comes along with it.  The situation is a  lot like St Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee restoration. It’s a generational goal done so that our stories and our lives are remembered, and not “long-lost.”

No 12386

Page 5, original land survey 1855

Today’s map, as printed on-line August 2, 2017.

Newspaper article in about cutting of trees and lumber in Indiantown area, 1927. (Thurlow Archives)

My mother looking through a book on trees of Florida. 7/17 JTL

Kelly Morris, 2017
Links/sources:

M.C. Davis Devotes Life and Fortune to restoring Long-Leaf Pine forest near Pensacola, FL: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/17/415226300/gambler-turned-conservationist-devotes-fortune-to-florida-nature-preserve

NFWF: http://www.nfwf.org/whoweare/mediacenter/Pages/longleaf-gallery-16-0520.aspx

Green Meadow Project: http://greenmeadowproject.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_22.html?m=1

Digital Earth Watch, Old Growth Forests: http://dew.globalsystemsscience.org/activities/investigations/what-is-a-digital-image/investigation-measuring-old-growth-forest-loss

Appalachian Woods, History:http://www.appalachianwoods.com/Heart-Pine-History.htm

NWF: https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Plants/Longleaf-Pine.aspx

The Everglades’ Boundary of 1910, and Today’s Toxic Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

Historic map, Palm Beach Farms Company Lands ca. 1910 showing “edge of Everglades.”  Archives, Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades, Belle Glade, Fl.

Looking back gives us perspective when looking forward.

This old map showing the Palm Beach Farms Company Lands is interesting as is shows where people saw the “edge of the Everglades” when they were first developing around 1910.

Today it is hard to judge where we are and what “was” the Everglades…Some of us are literally “in it.”

Looking back, it is easy to see how  after over 100 years the waters of Lake Okeechobee are becoming more and more “toxic.” Kind of like a fish tank that can never be cleaned out….

One has wonder if the developers of the Everglades ever considered what would happen to the lake by building and developing farm lands right in the way of the natural flow, and then really blocking it by eventually putting a dike around the lake? In this map, the push was to develop lands further west beyond the eastern ridge…Think all all the development today out west beyond the ridge and into the historic Everglades!

Perhaps in their wildest dreams the early developers  would have never envisioned how many people live in south Florida today. Maybe they didn’t care. In any case, today we all here in South Florida are connected somehow to Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s  “liquid heart,” for drinking water, recharge, recreation, property values, and our health.

Over our history the human spirit has overcome greater threats than toxic algae; I am confident we will once again.

SFWMD satellite map South Florida. Red lines denote historic Everglades.
SFWMD
Lake O eastern shoreline, Port Mayaca, 7-21-17, JTL
Lake O, 7-21-17


LINKS:

Lawrence E Will Museum of the Glades: https://www.museumoftheglades.org

https://www.facebook.com/lawrenceewillmuseum/

Lake O acres today?/451,000: http://www.lakelubbers.com/lake-okeechobee-107/

Township and Range? the squares: http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html

Palm Beach Farms Company Lands-History (-bottom of blog by Ginger Peterson, Boyton Historical Society: http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html

Deadlines for EAA Reservoir and SB10, SLR/IRL

Aerials of A-1/A-2 region of the EAA, JTL/EL 2017
The following is a handout Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic passed out yesterday at the Rivers Coalition meeting. It is created by John Ullman of the Florida Sierra Club and gives clear presentation on what is necessary for the EAA Reservoir and SB10’s success. I am reprinting here as a resource and reference. Getting the legislation passed for Senate Bil 10 was just the beginning. As we know, for the reservoir to come to fruition we must be diligent over the coming years.
Notice the July 1st, 2017 deadline for the SFWMD to”request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.”
Relationships with the District continue to be strained; a nice phone call or email to Executive Director Peter Antonacci or board member would prove helpful. We must rebuild relationships for future success. We all do have a common goal, clean water for Florida.

http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/executive%20management

SIERRA CLUB, FLORIDA’S SB10 Blog-by John Ullman
SB10, Important Deadlines:

By July 1, 2017 SFWMD must request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.

By July 31, 2017, SFWMD must contact the lessors and landowners of 3,200 acres of state-owned land and 500 acres of privately-owned land just west of the A-2 parcel. SFWMD must express interest in acquiring this land through purchase, exchange, or terminating leases.

If the US Army Corps agrees to begin developing the post-authorization report, work on the report must begin by August 1, 2017.

SFWMD must report the status of the post-authorization change report to Fla Legislature by January 9, 2018.

SFWMD and Corps must submit the post-authorization change report to Congress by October 1, 2018.*

The House passed the measure with a 99-19 vote; the Senate passed it 33-0.

The Governor signed SB 10 into law on May 9, 2017

Details of SB 10:

• Accelerates the state’s 20-year goal of storing water south of Lake Okeechobee.

• Requires SFWMD to develop a project plan for an Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that provides at least 240,000 acre-feet (about 78 billion gallons) of water storage by utilizing the A-2 parcel (14,000 acres of state-owned land), land swaps, early termination of leases, and land acquisition.

• Provides for at least two-thirds of the water storage capacity of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Component G.

• Allows the A-1 parcel to remain a Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) as provided for in the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), or to be utilized for the EAA Reservoir if SFWMD can provide for at least 360,000 acre-feet of water storage.

• Requires SFWMD to include increased canal conveyance improvements, if needed, and features to meet water quality standards in the EAA Reservoir project.

• Provides deadlines for submitting the plan to Congress as a post-authorization change report, which will seek approval of the use of the A-2 parcel in a different manner than was authorized in CEPP.

• If the Corps has not approved the post-authorization change report and submitted it to Congress by October 1, 2018 or the post-authorization change report is not approved by Congress by December 31, 2019, SFWMD must request the Corps to develop a project implementation report for the EAA Reservoir Project located somewhere else.

• Prohibits the use of eminent domain to obtain privately held land.

• Provides for termination of the U.S. Sugar option agreement prior to the October 2020 expiration date if the post-authorization change report receives congressional approval or SFWMD certifies to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House that acquisition of the land necessary for the EAA reservoir project has been completed.

• Authorizes the use of Florida Forever bonds in an amount of up to $800 million for the costs of land acquisition, planning and construction of the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to the Everglades Trust Fund, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, for the purposes of acquiring land or negotiating leases to implement or for planning or construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project.

• Appropriates $3 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the development of the CEPP post-authorization change report.

• Amends the LATF distribution to include $64 million of additional funding for the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the General Revenue Trust Fund to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund to provide a loan for implementation of Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project.

• Appropriates $1 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the purpose of negotiating Phase II of the C-51 reservoir and provides the LATF as a potential funding source for the implementation of Phase II of the C-51 reservoir.

• Creates the water storage facility revolving loan fund and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for its implementation.

• Creates the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to provide grants to stimulate and support training and employment programs that seek to re-train and employ displaced agricultural workers.

• Requires SFWMD to give preferential hiring treatment to displaced agricultural workers, consistent with their qualifications and abilities, for construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project.

• Terminates the inmate labor work program on state-owned lands in the EAA.

The post-authorization change report must be approved by Congress by December 1, 2019.*

*If these two deadlines are not met (and no extension is granted), then the SFWMD must request that the Corps initiate the planning for the EAA Reservoir project that will result in a new Project Implementation Report (PIR) and may continue to build CEPP components as planned in the 2014 PIR.

Posted by Jon Ullman, May 2017, Sierra Club blog
Sierra Club Florida website:http://www.sierraclub.org/florida

JTL 6-23-17

WPTV’s “Changing Seas” Features St Lucie River’s Toxic Algae Saga, SLR/IRL

The day before yesterday, I received an email from my mother. It read:

“I was watching TV and it looked like “our” toxic algae is going to be in the Changing Seas program tomorrow night on PBS at 9.”

She was right! So glad she let me know as I may have missed it. If you did, you can view on link below.

CHANGING SEAS
Toxic Algae: Complex Sources and Solutions:

http://video.wpbt2.org/video/3002101897/

There is incredible footage of the 2016 toxic algae event caused primarily by forced discharges by the ACOE and SFWMD from Lake Okeechobee into the estuaries, St Lucie and Caloosahatchee. South Florida locals such as Mary Radabaugh, Dr Edie Widder, Dr Brian LaPointe, Mark Perry, Phil Norman, Dr Larry Brand, Dr Steve Davis, and Col. Jennifer Reynolds are prominently featured. Edie Widder’s political commentary at the end is priceless.

CHANGING SEAS
Toxic Algae: Complex Sources and Solutions.
Aired: 06/21/2017

Water releases from Lake Okeechobee periodically create putrid mats of blue-green algae. Scientists think water pollution is to blame, and if something isn’t done about it there could be irreparable damage to the environment, the local economy and people’s health.

You can Like Changing Seas on Facebook and attend their DIVE IN Summer series on this topic June 28th, 2017. See link:

https://www.facebook.com/changingseas/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE


Please use link, not arrow to access video again: http://video.wpbt2.org/video/3002101897/

Thank you Changing Seas for covering this important topic!

6-22-17

JTL

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