Difference between revisions of "Florida Constitution"

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==[[Article VIII, Florida Constitution|Article VIII: "Local Government"]]==
==[[Article VIII, Florida Constitution|Article VIII: "Local Government"]]==
Article VIII covers local government, distinguishing between charter counties and non-charter counties.  
Article VIII local governments, from counties to municipalities and the transfer of powers.<ref name="fl"/>
==[[Article IX, Florida Constitution|Article IX: "Education"]]==
==[[Article IX, Florida Constitution|Article IX: "Education"]]==

Revision as of 10:41, 4 June 2014

Florida Constitution
750px-Flag of Florida.svg.png
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 local governments, from counties to municipalities and the transfer of powers.[1]

Article IX: "Education"

Article VIII addresses both PK-12 and college/university public education.

Article X: "Miscellaneous"

Article X includes various provisions about fishing, gambling and abortion, among other topics.

Article XI: "Amendments"

The method of "compilation" for the Florida Constitution is unlike that of the federal constitution. When the Florida Constitution is amended, the official text of the document is edited, removing language that is no longer in force.

Article XII: "Schedule"

This article provides a transition between the 1885 and 1968 Constitutions.

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% 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).


1812 Patriot Constitution

In March 1812, a group of Georgia settlers known as the "Patriot Army," with de facto support from the U.S. government, invaded Spanish East Florida. The Patriots hoped to convince the inhabitants of Spanish East Florida to join their cause and proclaim independence from Spain. Once independence was achieved, the Patriots would transfer control of the territory to the United States. The Patriots eventually lost their support from the U.S. government and abandoned the Florida project in early 1813. The 1812 Patriot Constitution can be viewed here.

The 1838 Florida Constitution

One of the requirements for a territory to become part of the Union is that its constitution be approved by Congress. Florida's 1838 Constitution was the product of the convention held in St. Joseph, Florida, which began December 3, 1838, and was used to fulfill this requirement.

A handwritten copy of the 1838 Constitution or "Form of Government for the People of Florida," signed by Convention President, Robert Raymond Reid, and Convention Secretary, Joshua Knowles resides at the State Archives of Florida. Considered "a secretary's copy" this document is the only known copy of the 1838 Constitution. The original Constitution, signed by all the delegates, has never been found.[2]

Ordinance of secession, 1861

The Civil War catalyzed an election in 1860 in Florida for a convention "for the purpose of taking into consideration the position of this State in the Federal Union." This convention met in Tallahassee on January 3, 1861, and had produced for adoption on January 10 an Ordinance of Secession and a constitution, which largely altered the existing Constitution by substituting "Confederate States" for "United States" and declared Florida to be "a sovereign and independent nation." [2]

The 1865 Florida Constitution

To re-enter the Union under Presidential Reconstruction, a constitution was created by a convention called by the appointed governor. On October 10, 1865, the Constitutional Convention met in Tallahassee to nullify the Ordinance of Secession of 1861 and adopt a new constitution for Florida. The 1865 Constitution went into effect on November 7, 1865, without being submitted to the people for ratification; though, since it was never ratified, this constitution was never truly in effect. The U.S. Congress rejected it and put Florida under military rule until 1868 when a new constitution was written.[2]

The 1868 Florida Constitution

Florida's 1868 Reconstruction Constitution returned civilian control of the state. Pursuant to an Act of Congress, General John Pope, Commander of the 3rd Military District, issued an order on April 8, 1867, dividing the 39 counties of the State into 19 districts for the election of delegates to a convention to frame a new constitution. The Constitution was adopted by the people of Florida in May 1868, Florida was recognized as being restored to the Union, and Florida's Senators and Representatives were admitted to Congress. It also enfranchised black males and required each voter to take an oath of loyalty to the State of Florida and the United States Government.[2]

The 1885 Florida Constitution

Florida's 1885 Constitution ultimately reversed some of the aspects of the 1868 Constitution. It also established the makeup of the state government that continued until 1968. The 1885 constitution was submitted to the citizens of Florida for ratification in November 1886. It was ratified by a 31,803 to 21,243 vote.[2]

Ratification of the current constitution

The current Florida Constitution, the Constitution of 1968, was proposed in 1968 via three joint resolutions in special sessions of the Florida State Legislature. House Joint Resolution 1-2X included all revisions except for Article V, Article VI and Article VIII. Senate Resolution 4-2X proposed the new Article VI, which relates to elections and suffrage. Senate Resolution 5-2X proposed a new Article VIII, which defined law regarding local government. Article V was included from the 1885 constitution as amended.

The constitution was ratified via referendum by the electorate on November 5, 1968.[2]

See also

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External links

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Additional reading