Tag Archives: legislature

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

A 10 Year Olds’ Winning “Save Our River” Toilet Seat, Visionary School of the Arts, SLR/IRL

Winning art by 10 year old Aiden Serafica, Save the River toilet seat, Visionary School of the Arts, 2015.
Winning art by 10-year-old Aiden Serafica, “Save the River” toilet seat in acrylics, Visionary School of the Arts, 2015.

Art has always been political. It is by nature. It makes us think. It makes us feel—whether we want to or not. Our reaction to art is ancient and deeply programmed into our innermost being….

Today, I  say “Kudos!” to 10-year-old Aiden Serafica, a student at Lynn Barletta’s “Visionary School of the Arts,” in Stuart. As you probably know, the school is doing a wide range of amazing things with area youth. (http://www.visionaryschoolof-arts.org)

So this past Sunday, I was at Carson’s Tavern having dinner with my husband, Ed,  and friends Anne and Peter Schmidt, when an adorable ten-year old boy walks up to me and says: “My grandmother told me I should show you this…”—he was smiling from ear to ear! He reaches out and shows me a phone, and this is what I saw:

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“Aiden Serafica age 10 is in Miss Robyn’s Thursday class. Aiden was commissioned to paint a toilet seat in a “SAVE OUR RIVER” theme by local business owner Susan of Palm City Farms. Aiden received $100.00 for his beautiful rendition in acrylics. In addition this piece won first place in a contest at Martin County Fairgrounds as part of the best booth of the fairgrounds! Congratulations to Aiden on a completely unique and daring project of creativity. Art is indeed everywhere!”

I was so excited by what I saw and read, and that this young man, Aiden, would share this with me.

“This is wonderful Aiden! Congratulations! Very powerful! So proud of your artwork and expression. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon! ” Aiden and I  shook hands. He was beaming; he even winked…

I think the Army Corp, the South Florida Water Management District, the state legislature and the Governor’s office are going to have to have a lot of pressure from future generations to  “get the water right….” —-perhaps they too, if they see Aiden’s toilet art, will come up with some daring and creative ways to speed up fixing our rivers.

Robin Mendez's phone image.
Robin Mendez’s phone image.

You can learn more about Visionary School of the Arts on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Visionary-School-of-Arts-231642403558562/ or on their website:
http://www.visionaryschoolof-arts.org

River Kidz’ Feedback–“Clean Water/Amd. 1 Rally,” SLR/IRL

 

Katy Lewey of St Lucie River Kidz leads way at the "Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally," Tallahassee, Florida 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)
Katy Lewey and her daughter Hannah of St Lucie River Kidz lead the way at the “Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally,” Tallahassee, Florida 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

River Kidz member, Keile Mader, 10, speaks at the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally, Tallahassee, 2-18-15: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvE3-dJjp0Q)

Naia Mader and Olivia Siegel give feedback on rally experience: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_t_uG9Zko)

 

Question posed to River Kid: “So do you think you’ll become a politician?”

“Ummm..no…but I think I’ll be a better public speaker….:)”

 

This blog post is a follow-up to yesterday’s: “Tallahassee or Bust! River Kidz and the Clean Water Rally, Tallahassee, 2015.”

Yesterday, River Mom, Nic Mader, dropped off Naia, Olivia, Keile and I in front of the state capitol building for the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally…The sounds of speakers and music filled the air; the bright colors and black skeletons of Janeen Mason’s Solidarity Fish project  could be seen in the distance….(http://www.solidarityarts.com); various members of the RIVER WARRIORS, and others, came up to say “hello;” it was a cool, bright, sunny day and a sense of history exuded from every giant oak tree draped with spanish moss….

“Girls stop.” I said.

Naia, 14, Olivia, 13,  and Keile, 10 turned around and looked at me inquisitively.

“River Kidz, I want you to look around you for a minute. I want to share something with you that you may not think too much about… “THIS is part of the First Amendment, of the United States of America: “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government”…not all countries of the world allow this. My friend Aletha Jones teaching in China in 1989 when their government brought tanks into Tiananmen Square opening fire. Our country and our form of government, have many failures…but our “right to assemble” is key to what is “good” in our democracy….Participate today and know, you too, are a part of this great history of our country ….”

The girls nodded their heads in partial understanding, used to my occasional rants,  and we walked to the steps of the Florida capitol to be a part of the “Clean Water and Amendment 1 Rally” for the State of Florida’s historic 75% passage of the “Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1, 2014.” (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29)

The rally was a message to the governor and the legislature to spend those monies as is intended within the language of the bill. For those of us coming from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Region, this means spending some of this money to purchase option lands south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south to the Everglades, in time, saving the dying estuaries of St Lucie/IRL and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Springs.
Springs sign-Katy Lewey overseeing the SL and Martin River Kidz.

Before the capitol and on its stairs, were people from all over the state;  we even saw Dr Bob Knight, a legend in the springs movement. Most of Florida’s springs have been equally deviated by poor “water” decisions by state, federal and local governments.

River Kidz speaking before the Senatae committee. Watch here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFWWEtiwig)
River Kidz speaking before the Senatae committee. Watch here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFWWEtiwig)

It was a whirlwind of a day. The River Kidz were able speak at the rally; write short speeches, and to present them before Representative Larry Lee, Senator Joe Negron, and then, again, at the Senate Natural Resources Committee. They passed out their new River Kidz Second Edition Workbook, “Marty the Manatee” inspired by Mr Marty Baum, the Treasure Coast Indian Riverkeeper.

It was a good day.

Did we feel “warm and fuzzy feedback” regarding our request for option land purchase in the Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee?

“No.”

Did I hear such things as “Steve Crisafulli, the House Speaker may want  to be the Commissioner of Agriculture, and Adam Putnam does want to be governor.”….”agriculture/sugar does not want to sell the land now”—“and believe you me they are 20 years ahead the rest of you investing millions, if not billions of dollars, on a state and national level—–to influence politicians”…..”but its not all doom and gloom—things are moving”—–“and the subsiding EAA lands”—-“oh yes, and the future of Cuba,” “you never know—- maybe”…..”it’s changing so fast…”the advocacy along the Treasure Coast is noticed and making a difference…”

YES. I did hear such things….

🙂 (I will never reveal my sources but I can tell you I have good ones and spoke to many people…..)

Did we, the River Kidz: did I Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, and River Mom , Nichole Mader find “this” discouraging?

“Yes, and No.”

Yes, because coming up against any wall is never fun when one is looking to go forward…

Nonetheless, I also know, and have been told, all this pushing IS having effect. I also know it may push the “powers that be” faster into what-ever-it-is that breaks this wall of historical government/agriculture “self-interest,” because water and the flood gates of the people will in time bring it down.

Of that I am certain.

Thank you River Kidz! Thank you all! For securing a better water future!

Maggy Hurchalla...
Maggy Hurchalla…
Mark Perry before the Senate Natural Resources Committee. (JTL)
Mark Perry before the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Cris Costello, Sierra Club.
Cris Costello, Sierra Club.
Kidz with aide in Senator Simmon's Office, delivering their workbook.
Kidz with aide in Senator Simmon’s Office, delivering their workbook.
Senator Dean's office, chair of the Nat'l Resouces Senate Committee.
Senator Dean’s office, chair of the Nat’l Resources Senate Committee.
Bill McCullum and others in background during Senate meeting.
Former Attorney General, and House of Representatives, Bill McCollum and others in background during Senate meeting.
Senator Negron's office.
Senator Negron’s office.
Representative Lee's office.
Representative Lee’s office.
Senate schedule.
Senate schedule.
Olivia Siegle's speech.
Olivia Siegle’s speech.
Keile Mader's speech.
Keile Mader’s speech.
Naia Mader's speech.
Naia Mader’s speech.
River Kidz before the capitol building.
River Kidz before the capitol building.

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River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

River Kidz Martin County: (https://www.facebook.com/pages/River-Kidz/237123116309196)

River Kidz St Lucie County: (https://www.facebook.com/riverkidzslc)