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/