Tag Archives: senate

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

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.


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.)


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

~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!


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.


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

Understanding Our State Legislature, and How to Make it Work for the Indian River Lagoon

Understanding our state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.
Understanding our Florida state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.

As usual, I  will be talking today about something I certainly don’t totally understand, but have gotten glimpses into, and therefore want to share…

The state legislature and how it works is very confusing. It  is a much larger, shrouded, party-oriented, moodier animal– to say the least, and meetings are not as easy to attend as local county or city commission meetings here at home.

So, how can we begin to approach and understand the legislature and all of its moving parts, in order to get what we want for our ailing St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

Let’s start out with the very simple…

First, even though the formal legislative session does not start until March 3rd, the state legislature is holding committee meetings now. We must communicate with the legislature now, while they are in committee meetings, and not wait until “session.” Waiting until session is too late. The whole process is fast and furious and during session there is no time to “talk.”

The dates I  have from my Florida League of Cities information packet for the 2015 Florida Legislative Committee (and they are subject to change, ) are  as follows:

Legislative Interim Committees: January 5-9; 20-23.

Legislative Interim Committees: February 2-5; 9-13; and 16-20.

March 3rd Legislative Session Convenes (begins)

May 1st is the last day of Regular Session.

So politicians are in meetings this week, right now! In order to find out what committees are meeting and where, you have to visit their webistes….we will talk about this in a minute.

Second, who is on what committees, and who are “our” state legislators?

There are many committees and figuring out what bill will be in what committee during session or when they are meeting is not easy, but basically for the “Indian River Lagoon” I try to keep track of two committees: 1. the “Senate’s Natural Resources and Conservation Committee” and 2. the “House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.” (Gulp, don’t ask me why natural resources is together with agriculture as it seems sometimes the two have competing interest.)

The website for the Senate is: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

And the website for the House of Representatives is: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

It is important to know that the president of the Senate this year is Andy Gardiner and the speaker of the house is Steve Crisafulli. Both of these gentlemen represent parts of Brevard County which is on the INDIAN RIVER LAGOON! Maybe you could write them a note….? 

Now, go to both sites and look up “committees,” finding the two I mentioned above. Next, go to “calendar” and determine the dates and what rooms in which the committees will be meeting.

From what I understand, you can fill out a form on-line to speak in one of these meetings; the problem is you could drive all the way to Tallahassee and then the committee chair may decide to cancel the meeting  or not allow you much time to talk. Committee chairs are very powerful positions and are determined at the beginning of each legislative session. Nonetheless, look up the chairs of the two Natural Resource Committees. Do you know them? Do you know somebody who knows them? 

OK, now, third, is a good time to talk about “our legislators” also called our “legislative delegation.” Let’s find out what committees our legislators are on this year. Then let’s write and congratulate them! This is a good way to start a relationship. To get anything at all, you have to build a relationship. This can be done! They want to hear from you!

Also, don’t just contact them when you want something. Stay in touch regularly. Tell them what you are doing, send them a summary of what you as an activist or your organization is doing. Start by looking up the assistant of the legislator and contacting this person. Over time, try to get an appointment with the legislator. Be diligent; be positive; be polite; keep going back….Don’t give up! Invite them places; invite them to your rallies!

From my recollection, our Martin/St Lucie/Indian River area legislators are:

Senators: Joe Negron and Denise Grimsley:  To learn about them go to (http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators) and search by last name  to see their committee appointments and if they are chairing a committee.

Representatives: Gayle Harrell; MaryLynn Magar; Larry Lee; and Debbie Mayfield. Look them up alphabetically and find out what committees they are on: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx)

This is a lot of work, but if you don’t know anything about your legislators how can you ask anything from them or make a good impression?

Interestingly, you will note many of them, do not serve on the Natural Resource or Agriculture and Natural Resource Committees. (I believe Larry Lee and Debbie Mayfield are the only ones I have seen over the past years….) Nonetheless, as bills move through committees our delegation can give input…if you communicate with them that is. If you don’t, don’t expect your voice to be heard.

The biggest thing that will be affecting the Indian River Lagoon this session besides Senator Negron following through on his Senate Select Committee on the IRL and Lake Okeechobee commitments will be how the legislature decides to deal with the passing of Amendment 1. for lands acquisition.

Just last night, Ted Guy, of the Rivers Coalition, sent out an email stating the Senate was now taking comments on their website from the public on how to utilize Amendment 1, the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, and that a new committee had been formed on its behalf.

Amd. 1. (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29Go here to make a comment: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

St Petersburg article on this website: (http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/173843)

So, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but go ahead, stick your feet in the cold, cold water; let’s warm things up, and be the voice of the Indian River Lagoon!


I must thank Mrs Kathy Till of the Florida League of Cities for her advocacy training and insights: (http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com)