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Florida's Constitution Revision Commission Stopped In Ft. Myers

Quincy J. Walters

Every 2o years, Floridians have the opportunity to suggest changes to the state constitution through the Constitution Revision Commission. It's one of five ways Floridians have to change the state's constitution. The Commission listened to local resident's concerns Wednesday night when it stopped in Fort Myers. 

Nearly 300 people went to Florida SouthWestern State College's sports arena to suggest changes to Florida's constitution. The Commission, made up of mostly lawyers, business people and educators, selected by politicians,  is on its statewide tour. This group is the third one of its kind in state history. 

People can also submit proposals online. 

About one-third of the crowd spoke. There were a few popular topics.

Gun rights was one.

"One point seven million Florida concealed carry permit holders should be able to openly carry and not fear being outed," said one man. 

"Unfortunately, Mississippi and Georgia have better gun rights than Florida does," said another. 

Another widely brought up topic was Florida's privacy law and whether or not it includes abortion. 

"It states that everyone has a right to be let alone," a lady said. "And free from government intrusion."

"They somehow twisted the privacy from improper information-gathering to include, of all things, abortion rights for minors," one person contested. 

"Women, like myself who have terminated pregnancies, do not want their government to tell them whether they can make the decision or not," a woman said. 

If people didn't make their point in the two minute limit, they'd hear "You're time is up. You're welcome to submit any addition comments on the website." 

There was a faction there that doesn't want any changes made to the constitution. Shawn Connett is among that group. He said the political climate is just too messy. 

"The massive differences in ideas and there's so many special interest groups out there right now and giant mega corporations are involved in more and more aspects of our lives," Connett said. "And they influence politicians and the people through the media." 

One person expressed fear of Muslims. 

"I have a question about Muslims or Islamists running for political office," he said. "Are they loyal to the constitution of the United States? Or are they loyal to the Quaran and Sharia Law?"

Only one person brought up healthcare. A couple talked about the environment, tourism and education. 

The Commission goes to Tampa next week. Any amendments the Commission selects will go on the 2018 general election ballot for voter approval. They require 60 percent of the vote to pass. The 1988 Commission proposed nine amendments and voters passed eight of them.