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Florida Supremes Send 'Fight For $15' Minimum Wage Amendment to the Ballot

$15 an hour minimum wage

TALLAHASSEE, FL –  The Florida Supreme Court unanimously advanced onto the November 2020 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

In their 16-page opinion, justices ruled Florida For  A Fair Wage’s “Fight For $15” measure meets all legal tests – most notably, the one regarding single subjects – making it the first of the four petition-generated initiatives to pass the Supreme Court’s mandatory review of its language.

Link to FL Supreme Ct decision regarding $15 minimum wage constitutional budget initiativeIt will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2. It calls for raising the current minimum wage from $8.46 an hour to $10 in September 2021 with $1 an hour increases annually until it reaches $15 in 2026. Afterward, the amendment will require the minimum wage increase annually in accordance with inflation.

Florida For A Fair Wage is led by John Morgan, a prominent Orlando trial attorney whose law firm contributed nearly all the $4.93 million in campaign contributions listed Thursday with the state Division of Elections (DOE).

Morgan, who also spearheaded the 2016 measure that legalized medical marijuana, said in a statement that Amendment 2 will “give every Floridian the dignity of a fair wage.”

“Now, the sprint to reverse decades of inequality really starts – and let me tell you – this is going to be a tough challenge,” Morgan said. “But just like voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana in 2016, I’m confident we will do the same in 2020 because Floridians are compassionate and know that giving every worker a fair wage means not just lifting up those who would directly benefit, but lifting up our broader economy when hardworking folks have more money to spend.”

Link to Columbia County Observer article on no wage increase for FGC food workersState Attorney General Ashley Moody wanted the Court to sanction the wording of the measure’s financial impact statement, but it concluded its authority is restricted to the clarity of the proposal’s language.

During the 2019 session, lawmakers revised regulations for petition-initiated ballot measures. One requirement effective July 1 is prospective ballot measures must now also undergo a financial impact assessment.

The new provision requires results of that assessment by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC), a panel of state economists, be included in the measure’s ballot language.

The FEIC estimates raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 would cost Florida governments more than $500 a million a year.

The measure is opposed by state business and industry associations, most notably those engaged in the tourism industry, which supports 1.5 million jobs and contributes more than $86 billion to Florida’s economy.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association claims the measure “will have a direct impact on our state’s 1.4 million hospitality workers” by “reducing the number of hours remaining employees work and seeking labor alternatives like automation."

The Florida Chamber of Commerce maintains if Amendment 2 is adopted, the state will “very likely lose nearly half a million jobs by 2026, and we’ve seen estimates that are higher than that.”

This piece appeared in the The Center Square and was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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