Someone is trying to pull a fast one on the people of Florida. Voters are supposed to consider an amendment to the State Constitution that bundles several different proposals into a single amendment, to the utter confusion of voters, who will not be able to vote individually on the proposed changes.

The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida filed a brief to the panel of his former colleagues, asking that they either seek justification for this bundling or toss it off the ballot.

How can it be possible to justify an effort to mislead and trick voters?

One member of the Constitutional Revision Commission was Patricia Levesque, who heads Jeb Bush’s foundation; she said that the state constitution was obsolete because it did not contemplate the creation of charter schools, online education or other innovations of the current era. Another Commission member is a charter school founder, who claimed that the current wording in the state constitution was designed to protect the “education monopoly.”

Retired Florida chief justice Harry Lee Anstead has asked his former panel to require justification for why six proposed constitutional amendments including Amendment 8 should remain on the November ballot, or to toss them out.

Anstead, joined by former Florida Elections commissioner Robert Barnas, contend in their filing to the state Supreme Court that the six proposals from the Constitution Revision Commission are unconstitutionally bundled, preventing voters from making a simple “yes” or “no” decision on them.

They challenge Amendment 8, which includes three ideas collectively grouped under education, as well as amendments 6 (rights of crime victims), 7 (first responder and military survivor benefits), 9 (offshore oil drilling and vaping), 10 (state and local government structure), and 11 (property rights).

Their key argument:

“Petitioners submit herein that each and every one of the foregoing proposed revisions bundles independent and unrelated proposals in a single ballot question in a manner that requires a voter to vote ‘yes’ for a proposal that the voter opposes in order to vote ‘yes’ for an independent and unrelated proposal the voter supports and to vote ‘no’ for a proposal the voter supports in order to vote ‘no’ for an independent and unrelated proposal the voter opposes. This is logrolling and a form of issue gerrymandering that violates the First Amendment right of the voter to vote for or against specific independent and unrelated proposals to amend the constitution without paying the price of supporting a measure the voter opposes or opposing a measure the voter supports.”

The plaintiffs recognize the CRC’s ability to propose a comprehensive revision of the state constitution. However, they argue, this would require several discrete amendments and not a single overarching one.

The CRC has instead bundled independent and unrelated items, they argue: “All are beyond the power the Constitution has bestowed upon the Constitution Revision Commission and must be removed from the ballot.”

Additionally, regarding Amendment 8, they specify that the proposal does not clearly state its intent.

“This ballot language is clearly and deceptive misleading because it does not disclose to the voter that the proposed amendment to Article IX § 4(b), adding the language ‘established by the district school board,’ eliminates the constitutional requirement in Article IX § 1(a) that Florida have a uniform …system of free public schools, which has been a continuous constitutional imperative in Florida beginning with the Constitution of 1868. This measure seeks sub silentio to subvert decisions such as Bush v. Holmes, 919 So. 2d 392 (Fla. 2006),” they write. “This subterfuge must not be perpetuated upon Florida voters.”

One senses the hand of Jeb Bush in this subterfuge.

Never forget: Dark money never sleeps.

This is a quote from the first link, dated August 14, 2018:

Retired Florida chief justice Harry Lee Anstead has asked his former panel to require justification for why six proposed constitutional amendments including Amendment 8 should remain on the November ballot, or to toss them out.

Anstead, joined by former Florida Elections commissioner Robert Barnas, contend in their filing to the state Supreme Court that the six proposals from the Constitution Revision Commission are unconstitutionally bundled, preventing voters from making a simple “yes” or “no” decision on them.

They challenge Amendment 8, which includes three ideas collectively grouped under education, as well as amendments 6 (rights of crime victims), 7 (first responder and military survivor benefits), 9 (offshore oil drilling and vaping), 10 (state and local government structure), and 11 (property rights).

Their key argument:

“Petitioners submit herein that each and every one of the foregoing proposed revisions bundles independent and unrelated proposals in a single ballot question in a manner that requires a voter to vote ‘yes’ for a proposal that the voter opposes in order to vote ‘yes’ for an independent and unrelated proposal the voter supports and to vote ‘no’ for a proposal the voter supports in order to vote ‘no’ for an independent and unrelated proposal the voter opposes. This is logrolling and a form of issue gerrymandering that violates the First Amendment right of the voter to vote for or against specific independent and unrelated proposals to amend the constitution without paying the price of supporting a measure the voter opposes or opposing a measure the voter supports.”

The plaintiffs recognize the CRC’s ability to propose a comprehensive revision of the state constitution. However, they argue, this would require several discrete amendments and not a single overarching one.

The CRC has instead bundled independent and unrelated items, they argue: “All are beyond the power the Constitution has bestowed upon the Constitution Revision Commission and must be removed from the ballot.”

This is the second, published April 16, 2018:

Despite calls to treat each idea separately, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission has sent a proposal to voters that would set school board member term limits, require civic education in public schools, and allow for the creation of a state charter school authorizer.

Commission member Roberto Martinez, a former State Board of Education chairman and key legal adviser to Jeb Bush, pressed the panel Monday to unbundle the package [P 6003].

The portion to give control of some public schools to an entity other than a local school board would be a “game changer” that would radically alter public education governance, Martinez argued. Voters should have a clear understanding of the proposal and then decide on its own merits — not because it’s tied to another concept, he said.

“These are three separate issues,” former state senator Chris Smith said in agreement. “I don’t even realize how I’m going to vote. I’m strong on some of it. I’m against some of it.”

The opposition reflected a growing drumbeat across Florida, where several organizations have raised concerns about the “power grab” they suggested Republican government leaders are attempting. They had a coordinated campaign in newspapers over the weekend, signaling this could likely be a most challenged ballot item, and wrote a letter to CRC chairman Carlos Beruff asking for each proposal to be taken up independently.

Beruff was among the 22 members to vote against unbundling the proposals, and among the 27 to support placing the package on the November ballot. A proposal needed 22 votes to advance.

Unlike those who suggested the measure would decimate local control of public education, supporters of the initiative said the ideas “absolutely” belong together because they are all part of Article IX.

They contended it would unshackle the Legislature in any future efforts to come up with new ideas to improve the system.

The current constitutional language of Article IX authorizes local school boards to operate, supervise and control all free public schools within their jurisdiction. The amendment would limit that authority to the schools “established by the district school board.”

That has been read by many observers as a method to allow creation of an unelected state charter school approval system, which in the past has been rejected in court because of this section of the constitution.

Commission member Patricia Levesque, who heads Jeb Bush’s education foundation, argued that a state charter authorizer is not spelled out in the proposal. Rather, Levesque said, the idea is to upgrade 50-year-old language written when Florida’s population was less than half of what it is now.

Floridians did not contemplate charter schools, online education, dual enrollment or other ideas that have emerged since. Levesque contended that new concepts face political hurdles because of the constitution, and called for the change.

Commission member Erika Donalds, a Collier County School Board member and charter school founder, said the constitution needs to be forward looking.

“When these reforms run their course, will [lawmakers] be able to respond?” asked Donalds, who is attempting to open charter schools outside Collier County.

The time has come, she suggested, to get rid of the “unfair, antiquated” wording that is used to “protect the education monopoly,” and to give parents more opportunities for school choice.

“It is our duty to take the hogtie off the Legislature,” said Donalds, whose husband serves in the state House and recently sponsored a measure to create a private school scholarship for students who claim to be bullied in public school.

Commission member Frank Kruppenbacher, a longtime lawyer for district and charter schools, rejected that the Legislature cannot make any education reforms it wishes.

“What it needs is the leadership to do it,” he said, noting all the initiatives that have been implemented over the years.

Kruppenbacher was among the 10 members to vote against the proposal. The others were Martinez, former Florida Bar president Hank Coxe, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, State Board of Education members Tom Grady and Marva Johnson, former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, state Sen. Darryl Rouson, Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari, and Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart.

The ballot measure would require 60 percent voter approval to become effective.

One other education proposal, which would allow high-performing school districts to avoid certain portions of the state education code similar to charter schools, is to be considered separately. Commission Style and Drafting chairman Brecht Heuchan explained that the fourth proposal could not fit with the others and meet the wording limitations for amendments.

UPDATE: The “innovation school districts” proposal failed 13-23.