Constitution Revision Commission
Three ideas for Florida's Constitution
Florida college students gathered at the University of Florida for three days last month to participate in the Bob Graham Center for Public Service's Future of Florida Summit. The summit focused on the upcoming Constitution Revision Commission, a 37-member body appointed every 20 years with the unique power to place constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Participants worked with panelists to come up with amendment ideas. Three amendment ideas were chosen for submission to the Constitution Revision Commission: increase the mandatory retirement age for judges to 75; eliminate the write-in loophole in elections, which allows write-in candidates to "close" primaries that would otherwise be open and allow all registered voters to participate; and change elected constitutional officer positions in non-charter counties to nonpartisan
The groups' proposals were judged based on the clarity of the amendment and ballot summary text, the plausibility it would receive the required 60 percent approval, the amendment's constitutional worthiness and the quality of the presentation. The three amendment ideas that will be forwarded represent common sense improvements to the state's Constitution.
T.J. Pyche, Gainesville
Corcoran's clout | March 5
Support public schools
I would thank House Speaker Richard Corcoran for exposing the wasted tax money the governor wants for his two pet projects, Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. Who knew that the head of Visit Hillsborough makes as much as a university president? Unfortunately Corcoran is doing a far greater disservice to the citizens of Florida. He is out to gut one of the ideas that has made our country what it is today: a free high-quality public education. The plan would gut public education in the name of "school choice." I always felt public education was the great mixer in our society. You meet people of differing religions, color and social standing. From the beginning, I felt school vouchers were nothing more than an attempt to divert what should be public tax money into religious schools.
F.M. Younglove, Brandon
GOP criticizes health plan | March 8
We'll talk about it
Yes, it would appear that not all Republicans agree with the proposed health plan. It is the first draft. Unlike the Democratic sheep led by Nancy Pelosi, we Republicans may actually discuss a new plan. Novel concept.
Mary Wuerth, Valrico
In harm's way | Feb. 25
Keep guns off campus
As a mother of a Florida college student and a retired educator, I am strongly opposed to the "guns everywhere" bills in front of our Legislature. I have never met a parent of a college age student who asked for this legislation.
A 2015 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey found that 73 percent of Floridians indicated that allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campuses was a move in the wrong direction. I recently met a professor who resigned because of the threat to free speech that guns pose in a classroom.
My daughter is much safer on her campus as patrolled by trained, professional, police officers who know how to respond if necessary. Our state legislators should be working to keep our citizens safe, not doing the bidding of the NRA.
Nancy Millichamp, Treasure Island
St. Petersburg Grand Prix
Not a race track yet
As a resident of downtown St. Petersburg, I am actually looking forward to the grand prix since the amount of noise in the city might decrease. This past year there has been a noticeable increase in the number of very loud motorcycles and cars roaming the streets, particularly in the late afternoon and evening. I wonder what the drivers are trying to prove by being such a nuisance?
Donald Cunningham, St. Petersburg
Firearm fiction | March 7, Hiaasen column
Gun facts, not fiction
Never has a column been more aptly titled. It truly does represent the triumph of fiction over fact. Dozens of people have been gunned down in churches, schools, nightclubs and other designated "gun-free" zones. This is fact. Being gun-free didn't save anyone's life in those places.
Carl Hiaasen may be correct that it's a Hollywood fiction to think that a good guy with a gun will be able to stop a bad guy with a gun, but the proven fact is that the gun-free designation didn't stop anything.
John S.V. Weiss, Spring Hill
Guns and make-believe
I would like to commend Carl Hiaasen for his well-written article. We live in a world where technology makes movies and games seem so realistic that we come to believe anything is possible. However, life is not a fictional game that can be turned off at will. I believe this article captured the essence of what should be a grave concern to our society.
Katherine Di Guiseppi, New Port Richey
As the 2017 Legislative session opens, I am keeping score on the votes on issues of importance to me. I will not vote for anyone who supports open carry of weapons in public places and especially on campuses.
I will not vote for anyone who votes to further limit women's health-care issues. I am not for abortion, but I cannot understand why any woman should have to ask the government what she can do with her body.
I will further be watching to see who votes to keep our waterways clean and our environment pristine. And, yes, I am a fiscal conservative who wants maximum value for every dollar expended. I will also be watching educational issues. I hope that every voter out there will let them know what is important to them and hold them accountable at the polls.
Connie Kone, St. Petersburg