Home rule authority & local self-government–The 2020 Alachua County Charter Review Commission
December 17, 2019
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
In 1986, Alachua County voters approved the Alachua County Charter, giving us more powers of local self-government and freedom from State control. The Charter requires that a Review Commission of electors be appointed in 1990 and every ten years thereafter, to review the County Charter and propose amendments or revisions that may be advisable for placement on the general election ballot.
The time is now.
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Appointed by the Alachua County Commission, a Charter Review Commission (CRC) for the 2019-2020 review period has been established. While the Charter allows for amendment proposals by citizen initiative and by the County Commission, this is the once-in-10-year opportunity for residents to convene, review the Charter, and consider issues significant to us in Alachua County. Public engagement is key to this review process.
The Charter Review Commission believes that the process of deliberating local home rule authority is of great public importance, as is availability of the public information necessary to fully participate. Our website, http://ac2020crc.us/ , contains meeting dates/information, as well as historical documents and resources. To submit a proposal, please make use of our online, fillable form located at: https://alachuacounty.us/CharterReview/Pages/Amendment-Suggestions.aspx You can also call the staff liaison at 352-337-6144 for more information and assistance with meetings.
As a Charter county, Alachua County voters can take advantage of direct democracy. The Florida Constitution states that charter counties “shall have all powers of local self-government not inconsistent with general law…” A Charter county can do what the voters decide, as long as it does not conflict with State law. In the past, Alachua County voters have amended the Charter to adopt local campaign finance regulations and to have County environmental ordinances prevail over municipal ordinances. Other charter counties have set out exceptions for topics as wide-ranging as growth management and impact fees to a local code of ethics.
There is a compressed timeframe for submittal of proposals, study, legal research, and collective deliberation. A majority vote of the 12-member CRC is required to move proposals forward to three required public hearings. The County Commission must then hold a subsequent public hearing and is required to place any CRC-forwarded proposals on the ballot for voters to decide.
The 2020 Charter Review Commission welcomes your ideas and suggestions.
Penny Wheat, Chair, 2020 Alachua County Charter Review Commission