I was appointed to the Constitution Revision Commission, that meets only once every 20 years, last February, by Senate President Joe Negron (https://www.flcrc.gov). After a dizzying time, I’d say, I feel like I am finally catching my stride. The entire experience has been a lot like when I moved to Berlin, Germany in 1989. It was cold and I did not speak the language, but after many months of study and applying myself, it started to feel natural.
I have learned the CRC history; mastered the insane elevator system at the Capitol; gotten insight into the complexities of power and politics; met people from all over the state with their own serious issues; recognized the incredible importance of staff and of journalists; have learned how to run an effective legislative-style meeting; and how to stand my ground on a vote.
I have tried to apply the “5-Cs” that an army general taught me years ago…. Communication, Collaboration, Compromise, Cooperation, and Consensus…
As you may know, I sponsored 5 CRC environmental proposals. These came from the public’s submittals on-line, or from a public hearing earlier last year. One was a former citizen’s initiative. Today I will review where I am and where I think things are going.
The proposal that has gotten the most attention as well as the most push back–with 4 AIF hired Gunster lawyers, one a former Supreme Court Justice, fighting tooth and nail—has been P23, “A Right to Clean and Healthful Environment.” It was workshopped and heard by the Judicial Committee and I expect it to be voted on Friday, January 12, 2018. Due to the controversy, the prognosis does not look good, but it has raised environmental awareness for all of the proposals, and in my opinion made the business and government community look desperate to hold on to Florida’s “standard environmental operating procedure” that puts corporations and development before people. This power will not last forever, and we are all dependent on Florida’s good nature for our “riches.” —A search will pull up a multitude of editorials, news articles, and opinions, on this subject.
Two others will also be heard this coming week. P24 “Commissioner Environmental Protection”and P48 “FWC/Wildlife Corridors.” Both of these will be discussed and voted on by the Executive Committee of which I happen to sit on. P48 would allow FWC to protect habitat not just species. This seems a no brainer as how can you have species without protecting their habitat; but private property and development rights play into the equation so it will be a fight. I look forward to the discussion and for all of us to realize that one way or another, the only way to approach Florida’s growth filled future is with the pragmatic goal of statewide living wildlife corridors, connected and protected lands.
P24 would establish a Commissioner of Environmental Protection. A cabinet position. Just like Agriculture. Since the environment is linked to our number one state income generator–tourism it seems the time has come….challenging power structures is always a wrestling match, but this is one we can win.
The following week, on January 18, I expect to go before the Legislative Committee for P46, “Clarifying Language in Amendment 1 2014, or Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” It was heard once already but “temporarily postponed” to requests by committee and myself to work on the language. Sue Mullins and Clay Henderson are backbone of this proposal, know the background, etc., and I am fortunate to have their expertise.
I expect on January 19 to go before the Declaration of Rights Committee for P91,”No gas and oil drilling in Florida’s territorial waters.”
P91 is the only one of the five proposals to have “passed committee” in December. What is so amazing to me about this proposal is its timeliness. When I took it on, I actually first thought to myself, “You know, isn’t this kind of pase’? The River Kidz were protesting oil drilling with Surfrider Foundation in 2012. This won’t happen here…” But because it was past citizens’ initiative, and the language had already been reviewed, and because Manley Fuller who is a legend in the environmental community and the president of the Florida Wildlife Federation brought it to my attention, recommending I support it, I submitted the proposal three minutes before the deadline.
Now many months have passed and things have quickly changed. As headlines explode with oil drilling and federal opening of submerged lands including Floirda’s…it seems serendipitous that this proposal is lined up for the CRC, every Florida politician — regardless of party affiliation, and the diverse citizens of the state of Florida to support.
Some people would call it a “God-wink;” I like to think so. I will fight for every proposal, but it sure is nice to feel the wind at my back.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here to discuss.
CRC - 2017P 23By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
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.
6 Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
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 - 2017P 24By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
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.
9 Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
12 Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV of the State Constitution
13 are amended to read:
14 ARTICLE IV
16 SECTION 3. Succession to office of governor; acting
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 fourthree 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 fourthree 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
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
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.
87 A new section is added to Article XII of the State
88 Constitution to read:
89 ARTICLE XII
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
General Provisions, Chair
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
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.