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The Florida Bar Journal
March, 2018 Volume 92, No. 3
Educating Our Way to the Florida Constitution

by Michael J. Higer

Page 4

As I write this column, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is travelling across the state conducting town hall meetings to engage all of us in a dialogue about proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution. Over the next several weeks, the CRC will complete its review, and by May 10, it will file the proposed amendments with the secretary of state for inclusion on the ballot for all of us to decide in the November 6 election.

Because this unique process occurs only in Florida and only every 20 years, it is not surprising that only one in 10 of us understand what the CRC does — which means most people do not. So the Bar has made serious efforts, through the Protect Florida Democracy public education program, to educate all Floridians with knowledge and information about the CRC. Why? Everyone needs to know the critical importance of their voice in the CRC process, which is to learn, participate, and vote on the amendments during general elections this fall. All of us make the final call when it comes to changing our state constitution — one of the most important documents there is — which determines how much power the citizens give to our state government and in what form.

It is my pleasure to report the Bar’s Protect Florida Democracy campaign is going strong. While the CRC’s various committees are hard at work considering proposed constitutional amendments, we too have made a lot of progress since our kickoff a few months ago. In order to spread the word, and attract attention to our educational website,, the Bar is engaging in a digital advertising campaign. More than 42.6 million impressions have been made thus far, according to board member Sandy Diamond, chair of the Bar’s Special Committee on the 2017 Constitution Revision. The Bar’s goal is to make many more millions of impressions through online ads. I’m proud to announce the Bar’s website on the CRC process has had over 299,886 visits.

Other milestones by the Bar’s effort to empower voters and enhance their knowledge are:

• Bar ads have made 804,387 radio “impressions,” and there have been many articles about the Bar’s campaign in newspapers and on TV and National Public Radio affiliates in Florida.

• The Bar has distributed thousands of its printed education guide, with one legislator alone requesting 10,000 copies for constituents and other lawmakers also requesting copies. The guide is available in libraries all over the state and is being distributed through other venues. Muchas gracias to the Cuban American Bar Association for printing 5,000 more copies of the guide in español.

• The Bar has established a social media presence for the education campaign.

• More than 100 lawyers have joined the Bar’s CRC speakers bureau, nearly 44 talks have been given or scheduled, and the Bar is seeking more venues for the speakers.

• The October 17 kickoff press conference was successful with extensive coverage and boosted interest in the Bar’s online site.

The Bar has also been engaged in educating the CRC by providing them with video tutorials on each article of Florida’s Constitution and unbiased, neutral presentations on the proposed amendments. One commissioner expressed his gratitude by saying: “I am writing to share my sincerest gratitude to all of you and anyone else who had a hand in preparing the analysis on this proposal; it was used extensively by me and was a welcome voice in the discussion with committee members.” And, we will continue to be an educational resource to the CRC as it continues its work.

As the May filing date approaches, we will continue to closely watch the CRC’s progress and keep all of you informed. We will continue to speak on behalf of and promote a strong, independent, well-funded judicial branch. It is critical you, and all of us, do our part as well. Because changes to Florida’s Constitution will impact all of us, we all must be engaged in the discussion. Here are just a few ways — attend and participate in public hearings; submit a column or letter to your local newspaper; share information on social media; and email commissioners your comments at

The go-to place for everything you need to know about the CRC and all of the tools available to you is the Protect Florida Democracy website. You can also request a speaker from the program to talk to your organization about the CRC and why Floridians should get involved. The Florida Constitution is the backbone of our relationship with the government. Arm yourselves with the power of knowledge and spread the word!

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[Revised: 02-26-2018]