I summarized this blog post during the public comment period of the November 1st Duval Legislative meeting. Audience members were limited to two minutes. I included Ms. Smith’s two minute talk in the below clip, i.e. I am the second speaker in this clip:
Here is the two minutes of the leader of the local Women’s March chapter also asking the Duval Delegation to vote no:
Many people spoke during the comment period asking the Duval Delegation to vote no. But Fischer, Bean, Daniels, Wyman, Byrd, Daniels voted yes on Fischer’s J-1 bill. Please consider voting those 6 out when they run for re-election. Fischer’s J-1 proposes putting something that will change our city’s charter on the November 2020 city ballot. The thing he wants on our ballot: change the Superintendent from appointed by the 7 elected school board members to elected by the voters who show up at the polls.
- In most major cities the elected school board appoints the superintendent similar to the way other administrators are appointed by elected officials. The elected officials are able to do a nationwide search for the most qualified person.
- We don’t need Fischer’s proposal on our November 2020 ballot. Voters will have enough other things to be considering.
- Placing items on our city ballot or changing our city’s charter is the job of the city council, citizen initiatives, and to a limited capacity the elected school board. Certainly the state legislature can pass laws that may make parts of our charter inconsistent with state law, but it is up to the city council to fix the charter when that happens.
Below are quotes from various places that make it clear that the Duval Delegation isn’t supposed to usurp home rule by suggesting changes to our charter as Jason Fischer has done with his J-1 bills–version 1 and 2. Yet he did it anyway. And 6 of the 8 Duval Delegation voted to let his suggestion move to the House of Representatives. If the city council wants to put the option mentioned in the second version of the J-1 bill on our ballot, they have the authority within our Charter to do that but the Duval Delegation does not.
- House Rules for local bills
- Article VIII Section 6(e)
- Duval Delegation Rules
1. Quote from the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 2019 – 2020 LOCAL BILL CERTIFICATION FORM:
(1) The members of the local legislative delegation must certify that the purpose of the bill cannot be accomplished at the local level;
The form can be found at the website for the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. What J-1 proposes can be done at the local level. The city council can propose ordinances to put things on our city’s ballot. Therefore, I don’t see how the Duval Delegation is going to be able to answer yes to question #1 on the local bill certification form. Below is the link to the committee’s website where you can find the link to the form:
2. Florida Constitution Article VIII Section 6(e) CONSOLIDATION AND HOME RULE:
… Sections 9 (FN 1)… of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, shall remain in full force and effect as to each county affected, as if this article had not been adopted, until that county shall expressly adopt a charter or home rule plan
The authority that Jason Fischer has given for local bill J-1 is Article VIII Section 9 but Article VIII Section 6(e) says Section 9 is no longer valid once Jacksonville has a charter which we do.
3. Delegation Rules of Procedure:
It shall be the policy of the Delegation *not* to consider any matter which is within the authority granted by the Charter of the Consolidated City of Jacksonville.
Putting things on our ballot is within the authority granted by our charter to the city council and to a limited degree to the school board so even the Duval Delegation’s own rules should have told Fischer not to propose J-1.
Below are other items related to this issue
As an addendum, I feel I must also say that version 1 of Jason Fischer’s J-1 bill was particularly outrageous as he tried to say that a J bill could exempt Jacksonville from Florida’ Constitution. Article IX Section 4 of Florida’s Constitution says that the school board must be elected. Fischer’s first version of his J-1 bill suggested the Mayor appoint the school board rather than allowing the voters to elect a school board member for their school district.
SECTION 1. Public education.—
(a) The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require. To assure that children attending public schools obtain a high quality education, the legislature shall make adequate provision to ensure that, by the beginning of the 2010 school year, there are a sufficient number of classrooms so that:
SECTION 4. School districts; school boards.—
(a) Each county shall constitute a school district; provided, two or more contiguous counties, upon vote of the electors of each county pursuant to law, may be combined into one school district. In each school district there shall be a school board composed of five or more members chosen by vote of the electors in a nonpartisan election for appropriately staggered terms of four years, as provided by law.
(b) The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. Two or more school districts may operate and finance joint educational programs.
The attorney for Jason Gabriel’s Office of the General Counsel didn’t answer the question (in the below email) in this memo which is dated October 30th:
Note it says that it is dated 9/17/2019 but the memo was updated from its original form and is now dated October 30th. You can find it at this link:
———- Forwarded message ———
Date: Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 3:38 PM
Does Article VIII Section 6(e) say that Section 9 is no longer valid since we have a charter?
Local bills are used to ask the state legislature to exempt a city from a state statute. However, neither one of Jason’s J-1 bills aim to do that.
Even though the 1968 amendments to the state constitution were passed in November 1968 and the voters voted in August 1967 to consolidate as of October 1, 1968; that doesn’t negate the fact that Section 6(e) says Section 9 will no longer be valid once we have a charter.
This is how 6(e) reads now:
(e) CONSOLIDATION AND HOME RULE. Article VIII, Section 9 (footnote 1) … of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, shall remain in full force and effect as to each county affected, as if this article had not been adopted, until that county shall expressly adopt a charter
Please ask an attorney available to you about 6(e) and if it says Section 9 is no longer valid once we have a charter. Jason Fischer needs to quit saying Section 9 is still valid and gives him the authority to suggest things similar to his J-1 bills.
link to 1968 changes: