Floridians push for constitutional amendments in St. Pete

- A final hearing was held Tuesday before the state's Constitution Revision Commission to decide which amendments Floridians will vote on this November. Speakers demanded action on everything from assault weapons to greyhound racing at the hearing on the USF St. Petersburg campus.

Dozens of parents traveled from Parkland to say they got some of what they wanted from the state Legislature, but not an assault weapons ban.

"We truly saw firsthand how difficult it is," one parent said. "Put this proposal on the ballot in November. Let the people vote and decide. Enough is enough."

Four-hundred and thirty people spoke at the hearing for the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years.  The 37-member commission has narrowed a field of 103 proposals to 36, and will make only a handful of final selections by May, to be voted on in November.

Even those who didn't speak could be heard, with many holding green or red placards so commissioners could see their opinion.   Green being for yes, red for no.

"This process, even though it happens every 20 years, the opportunity for a citizen to submit a proposal and to have the entire state vote on a measure is a true democracy," said Sarah Gledhill, of the Center for Biological Diversity, which is pushing for an amendment to permanently ban oil drilling in state waters.

In 1998, nine proposals made it onto the final ballot.  Eight were passed. But back then, only 50-percent of the vote was required.  Now, 60-percent of the vote is required for passage of amendment.

"You are uniquely positioned to rise above politics and move solutions to the ballot," said one speaker.

Once they decide on the final ballot in May, the education campaigns will get underway trying to convince people to vote yes or no in November.

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