Florida Constitution

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Florida Constitution
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The Florida Constitution is the basic governing document of Florida. The current Florida Constitution was adopted by the state's voters on November 5, 1968.


The Florida Constitution establishes and describes the duties, powers, structure and function of the government of Florida and establishes the basic law of the state.It includes twelve articles.[1]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The Preamble to the Florida Constitution states:

We, the people of the State of Florida, being grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its benefits, perfect our government, insure domestic tranquility, maintain public order, and guarantee equal civil and political rights to all, do ordain and establish this constitution.[1]

Article I: "Declaration of Rights"

The Florida Constitution begins with a Declaration of Rights, which is similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights. The Florida Declaration of Rights, however, is much longer than the federal version, as it has 27 sections. Among other things, Article I of the Florida Constitution guarantees trial by jury, due process, freedom of the press and of religion. It also forbids, among other things, the passage of ex post facto laws and cruel and unusual punishment.[1]

Article II: "General Provisions"

Article II sets up the state's boundaries and provides for executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.[1]

Article III: "Legislature"

Article III establishes the Florida State Legislature as a bicameral body. The upper house is not to have more than 40 members elected to four year terms, and the lower house is not to have more than 120 members elected to two year terms.[1]

Article IV: "Executive"

Article IV governs the election of the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as the cabinet. It specifies that the cabinet must consist of an Attorney General, a Chief Financial Officer and a Commissioner of Agriculture, all of whom must be elected rather than appointed.[1]

Article V: "Judiciary"

Article V establishes the appointment and jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court and the Florida District Courts of Appeal, as well as circuit and county courts.[1]

Article VI: "Suffrage and Elections"

Article VI addresses election regulations and requirements of voters.[1]

Article VII: "Finance and Taxation"

Article VII establishes tax rules and regulations.[1]

Article VIII: "Local Government"

Article VIII establishes local governments, from counties to municipalities and the transfer of powers.[1]

Article IX: "Education"

Article VIII sets up the system of public education, pre-school through college, in the state, the State Board of Education and the election of its members and the state school fund.[1]

Article X: "Miscellaneous"

Article X includes various provisions, from militia and vacancies in offices to the lottery and minimum wage.[1]

Article XI: "Amendments"

Article XI establishes the process to amend the Florida Constitution.[1]

Article XII: "Schedule"

Article XII set up the transition between the 1885 and 1968 Constitutions.[1]

Amendment process

See also: Amending state constitutions

There are more paths to amending the Florida Constitution than are available in any other state. Article XI specifies these different methods:

  • Section 1 says that the Florida Legislature can put a proposed amendment on the ballot if 60 percent or more of the legislators in each chamber agree to do so in a joint resolution.
  • Section 2 says that starting 30 days before the 2017 session of the state legislature convenes, and every 20 years thereafter, a Florida Constitution Revision Commission shall meet. It can recommend proposed amendments or revisions, which will go on a statewide ballot.
  • Section 3, with some limits, grants the people the right to initiated constitutional amendments.
  • Section 4 grants the people the right to put a question on the ballot as to whether a convention shall be called. The question asked is, "Shall a constitutional convention be held?" (In order to put that question on the ballot, more signatures need to be collected than are required to qualify a standard initiated constitutional amendment for the ballot.)
  • Section 6 establishes the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which can decide on proposed constitutional amendments to go before the people. It meets every 20 years starting in 2007.

Amendment approval

Except as noted below, all amendments proposed, regardless of the method of amendment, must be approved by 60 percent of the voters in an election held simultaneously with the next general election (that is, the next one at least 90 days after the amendment is filed with the custodian of state records) before they become a part of the constitution.

  • Amendments involving creation of new state taxes or fees require a two-thirds approval of the voters.
  • The Florida Legislature, via a three-fourths majority, may pass a law calling for a special election date on any amendment (again, which must be 90 days after the amendment is filed with the custodian of state records).


Florida went through six constitutions before the current version was ratified by voters at the November general election in 1968.[1][2]

1812 Patriot Constitution

In March 1812, Spanish East Florida was invaded by settlers from Georgia known as the Patriot Army. The group had support from the United States government to try to convince the inhabitants of the area to declare independence from Spain so that the United States might claim them as a territory. By early 2013, the federal government retracted their support, and the Patriot Army abandoned their cause.[2] The 1812 Patriot Constitution can be viewed here.

The 1838 Florida Constitution

The 1838 Constitution was written so that Florida would be recognized as a state. The constitutional convention to establish this document began on December 3, 1838. The final version of this document can be viewed here.

Ordinance of secession, 1861

In order to secede from the United States, Florida had to change its constitution. A copy of the revised constitution was presented on January 10, 1861.[2]

The 1865 Florida Constitution

In order to re-enter the United States, Florida had to construct a new constitution. However, Congress rejected the adopted version and instead put Florida under Radical Reconstruction, or military rule, until 1868.[2]

The 1868 Florida Constitution

The 1868 Constitution returned control of the state to civilians.[2]

The 1885 Florida Constitution

Florida's 1885 Constitution reversed some aspects of the 1868 Constitution and established the set up of the state government that continued until 1968.[2]

See also

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External links

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