Amendment 10: State and Local Government Structure and Operation
The 2018 Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) sent Proposal 6005, titled “State and Local Government Structure and Operation,” to the general election ballot as Amendment 10.1 As explained in the ballot summary, proposed Amendment 10 combines four proposals relating to the structure and operations of two state agencies; local constitutional offices; and sessions of the state legislature.2
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
The first proposal seeks to amend art. IV, 11, to require the legislature to provide for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA). This revision would establish the department’s structure and governance within the Florida Constitution, including providing for cabinet oversight and Senate confirmation of its executive director.
In 1988, Floridians approved a legislatively referred amendment that created art. IV 11 and 12, which provided legislative authority to establish departments for veterans’ affairs and elder affairs as separate agencies. Later, the legislature created the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) and established its duties. At the time, the agency was part of the Department of Community Affairs, and services for veterans were distributed throughout several state agencies.
Amendment 10 makes the governance of FDVA consistent with similar provisions for cabinet-level agencies and retains legislative authority to establish policies to meet the changing needs of Florida’s former, present, and future military members and qualifying dependents.
Local Constitutional Offices
The second proposal revises art. VIII, 1 and 6, to require that the following constitutionally prescribed county officers be elected by the electors in every county: sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, and clerks of court. This revision removes the current ability of county charters to abolish certain constitutional offices, change the length of their four-year terms, transfer their duties to other offices, or eliminate the election of the constitutional officers.
Originally, the 1885 Florida Constitution required that these county constitutional officers be elected and perform the duties established by statute.3 But following constitutional amendments, particularly the 1968 Constitution, which authorized county charters, the method of selection and duties of these officers were changed in some counties.4
This revision does not change legislative authority or other functions, structure, or decisions of charter counties or their electors, such as establishing term limits or creating nonpartisan offices, or organizing other county offices. It retains art. V, 6, which specifies that non-court-related duties of the clerk of the circuit court may be assigned to another officer, although county electors must approve the separation of those duties by special law and elect both officers.
There are presently 20 charter counties in Florida, eight of which altered the structure of some constitutional offices by eliminating them, transferring their duties, or otherwise modifying them.5 While this revision governs elections for the 2020 cycle, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are provided an additional four years to revise their local charters, as well as the structure of county offices, to accommodate the revisions.
The third proposal seeks to revise art. III, 3(b), to provide a date certain for the state legislature to convene in even-numbered years. This revision would require the annual 60-day regular session of the legislature to convene on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in January in even-numbered years. But it does not alter the session dates in odd-numbered years.
Domestic Security and Counterterrorism
The fourth proposal seeks voter approval to amend art. IV, 4, to create an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Through this revision, the FDLE will be constitutionally designated as the lead agency to coordinate the counterterrorism and domestic security efforts for the state.
Currently, F.S. 943.03101 establishes the need for collaboration among emergency management and law enforcement agencies to prepare against and respond to acts of terrorism occurring within or impacting Florida. The FDLE is statutorily designated as the agency that “should” coordinate those efforts.
This revision to art. IV, 4, establishes the FDLE as the state agency with original jurisdiction to lead Florida’s domestic security and counterterrorism activities. As part of these responsibilities, the FDLE is directed to support prosecutors and law enforcement agencies as they investigate, analyze, and prosecute attempts or acts of terrorism. The revision recognizes but does not alter the duties or responsibilities of other government entities or their domestic security roles. It also preserves the legislature’s authority to prescribe the offices duties by general law.
1 CRC 2017-2018, Final Report (May 9, 2018), available at http://flcrc.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/CRCFinalReport.pdf .
2 Id. at 35-36.
3 Fla. Const. art. VIII, §6 (1885).
4 Fla. Const. art. VIII, §1 (c), (g) (1968).
5 CRC Staff Analysis, Proposal 13, http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0013/Analyses/2017p0013.pre.ee.PDF; Florida Association of Counties, Charter County Information, https://www.fl-counties.com/charter-county-information.
CAROLYN TIMMANN served as a commissioner on the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. She began her career in public service as a judicial assistant and Martin County law librarian. She then worked as a legislative assistant in the Florida House of Representatives and in the Attorney General’s Office as special assistant to Florida’s first two solicitor generals. In 2006, Timmann served on Gov. Charlie Crist’s transition team before becoming executive deputy chief of staff for military and veterans’ affairs, gubernatorial councils and commissions, and statewide consumer projects. She was also the governor’s liaison to the 2008 Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. Since 2013, Timmann has served as the Martin County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.