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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

UPDATED: Miami-Dade lawmakers push for county charter reform



A bill that would allow Miami-Dade lawmakers to propose changes to the county charter is once again gaining traction.

The proposal won the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday -- and now has only one committee stop left. The House version, sponsored by House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is awaiting a hearing on the floor.

If the bill were to become law, the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation would be able to put an amendment to the Home Rule Charter directly on the ballot. Two-thirds of voters would then have to approve the change. 

The bill would also allow term limits be set for county commissioners. 

Lopez-Cantera pushed the initiative last year, but it died on the Senate floor.

The bill has momentum this year.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, spoke in support of the proposal.

“This is an avenue for the citizens to have a say directly, because the county commission has not done what the Charter Review Commission has recommended they do,” she said.

At first, Sen. Oscar Braynon II, D-Miami Gardens, questioned the wisdom of getting involved in Miami-Dade politics and voted against the measure. But in a second vote, he decided to support it, he said.

"Maybe it should go to the entire Senate," he said, noting that he still has some concerns.

Last month, voters rejected a county charter amendment that would have given commissioners a pay raise in exchange for term limits. Voters did, however, approve a measure making it easier for citizens to place charter-amendment initiatives on the county ballot.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2012 6:04pm]


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