Senate panel orders constitution streamlining bill drafted

first_imgSenate panel orders constitution streamlining bill drafted Senate panel orders constitution streamlining bill drafted Gary Blankenship Senior Editor After exacting another pledge from the chair that radical policy changes will be excluded, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously ordered an amendment drafted to streamline the Florida Constitution.In a procedural step February 8, the committee received the proposed committee bill it had ordered, prepared, and then voted to have it redrafted and introduced as a Senate joint resolution to amend the constitution.As ordered to be drafted, the amendment corrects 297 spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, as well as corrrecting sections that are outdated or have been found unconstitutional. The amendment also removes from the constitution the provision regarding the treatment of pregnant pigs on pig farms and makes it a statute.When the committee gets the joint resolution back, it expects to see if members can agree that any other provisions of the constitution aren’t appropriate for the state’s basic charter and would be better turned into statutes. That meeting is expected in late February (after this News went to press) or early in March.Sens. Steven Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, and Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, repeated earlier concerns that the amendment could be drastically altered after leaving the committee to make changes in basic constitutional provisions and guaranteed rights, rather than just focusing on streamlining and removing useless provisions.Both said they had absolute faith in the motives of committee Chair Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando. But they worried he might lose control of the process once the amendment goes to the Senate and House floors.Webster responded that he will oppose changes that could be considered policy or affect rights, repeating his goal is only to streamline the document and remove provisions where there is broad agreement they should be statutory instead of constitutional.To guarantee that, Webster said he will not accept any cosponsors on the proposed streamlining amendment, which will make it easy for him to kill the amendment if unsatisfactory changes are made. He also said he would not offer a “strike-all” amendment to the bill, a common method of completely rewriting legislation on the chamber floor.“I’ve explained my position and I think you can take that to the bank.. . . Whatever this committee votes here is what I’m supporting.”“I have seen occasions where bills have been hijacked on the floor,” Campbell said. “I would ask that if this bill seems to deteriorate and the House comes up with something that is more draconian, you would give us assurance at that time you would have no option but to withdraw the bill.”“You’re one of the legislators I completely trust when they tell me something, which is why I’m trying to pin you down,” Geller said. “I don’t want to be in a position of having to say I voted several times [in committee] to get the bill out and then there’s a motion to substitute [an unacceptable] House bill.”The House Judiciary Committee has not yet acted on counterpart legislation, but chair Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, has said that panel will follow the Senate’s lead.Any amendment approved by the legislature will go to voters in the fall. March 1, 2006 Regular Newslast_img

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