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John Morgan Petitioning to Put $15/Hour Minimum Wage on 2020 Ballot

January 22, 2019 - 3:00pm
John Morgan
John Morgan

After spearheading efforts to pass a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana, Orlando attorney John Morgan said Tuesday he is moving ahead with a ballot drive aimed at gradually raising Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Morgan said a group he leads has collected more than 120,000 petition signatures, far more than needed to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot wording. If the court approves the wording, backers of the proposal would ultimately need to submit 766,200 valid petition signatures to take the issue to voters in November 2020.

Morgan, the head of the firm Morgan & Morgan, said increasing the minimum wage would give people the right to “work with dignity” as he pointed to vast income inequality.

“Our belief is the single greatest issue for America and Florida today is a living wage,” he said during a news conference in Orlando.

But as in other parts of the country that have considered a $15 minimum wage, Morgan likely will run into opposition from business groups if the proposal goes on the 2020 ballot. The Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, for example, said they do not favor placing such a mandate on businesses.

James Miller, a spokesman of the Florida Retail Federation, said a higher minimum wage could lead to “difficult decisions” for business owners, including the possibility of reducing jobs.

“Businesses, focusing mainly on small businesses which make up around 95 percent of our membership, only have a finite amount of money they can allocate to salaries and still make a profit,” Miller said in an email Tuesday. “By forcing a retailer to pay an employee(s) more, you’re going to force that retailer to do one of two things to protect their bottom line, either pay the increased wages and pass those increased costs onto customers in the form of higher prices or pay select employees that wage and let others go altogether.”

Morgan last year formed a political committee, known as Florida for a Fair Wage, which had received about $478,000 from his law firm as of Dec. 31, finance reports show. The committee had spent nearly $476,000, with almost all of that money going to petition-related expenses.

Under the proposal, the state’s minimum wage would go to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021 and increase by $1 each year until it hits $15 an hour on Sept. 30, 2026. The state’s minimum wage this year is $8.46 an hour.

“I think in the quiet of the night, fair people go, ‘There’s no way to live on $8 an hour,’ ” Morgan said.

Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that increases the minimum wage each year based on inflation. By comparison, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

But the Morgan proposal would go much further. The state Division of Elections website Tuesday did not list any petition signatures submitted by Florida for a Fair Wage, but Morgan said signatures will be mailed this week. A Supreme Court review is triggered by submission of 76,632 valid signatures.

During the news conference Tuesday, Morgan noted his experience with passing the medical-marijuana amendment, which narrowly failed in 2014 before getting overwhelming approval in 2016. He said it is better to propose such measures in presidential-election years, instead of in off-year elections.

“The good news is, I understand how to do this,” Morgan said.

Morgan said phasing in the higher minimum wage will help small businesses adjust, but he also said larger paychecks will help businesses retain employees longer. But business groups do not want employers to be required to pay higher wages.

"Nothing is more important to Florida’s business community than economic prosperity for all Floridians,” Edie Ousley, a spokeswoman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said in an email Tuesday. “Rather than adding another new mandate on local businesses, we should come together to ensure there's a universal path to prosperity through job training that creates $50,000 careers for the less than 4 percent of Floridians earning a minimum wage full time."


Interesting article and full of creative ideas. Thank you for sharing the article.

Tourists, and Australia pays their hosts in hotels, bars, and housekeepers much better than we do.

John Morgan puts his money where his mouth is. This is a powerful law firm that doesn't have to be investing almost a half million dollars into this initiative, or bumping their own internal wages. Like many other companies, including Amazon, they've realized people who can actually make a decent living will support local businesses and keep money circulating in the economy. The only downside for them is that Morgan & Morgan is going to be flooded with resumes by anyone with a will to work...for an actual living.

Assume I make $12/hr and the minimum wage is $8.50/hr. Based on that, I am $3.50/hr AHEAD of minimum wage. Under Morgan's proposal, the minimum wage goes to $15/hr. Assuming that I even get to keep my job (employers WILL drop people as a result of this), now I make $15/hr but now I am AT minimum wage. How have I been 'helped?'

If the people want it, and vote for it, so be it... If they don't, they don't. Beyond tired of trailer park heroes or politicians telling us what we should and should not be happy with. It is long past due for a return to gov't, "of the people, by the people, and for the people". and for that Mr. Morgan, we say thank you...

"and for that Mr. Morgan, we say thank you" Thank you for what? If you think the people that voted for medical marijuana are a shoe-in for this vote, you are grossly mistaken. If this measure makes it to the ballot, it will never garner the 60% of the votes it needs for passage.

More worthless, hypothetical pontification from the "bar stool", on all things potentially litigous..

and profitable!

No matter how you feel about this, John has again proven that when you get down to basics, John really is ForThePatients and ForThePeople. Love him or hate him, he's trying to make Florida a better place to live. Thanks John

I fail to see where government has authority to insert itself in private contracts. But I'm a nonarchist.

Horrible idea. Businesses will flee the state to states who have a lower minimum wage, and you can say goodbye to entry level jobs and summer jobs for students. Retail shops will close as their ability to compete with on-line retailers becomes non-existent. Illegal alien and off the books labor will increase. Unemployment will spike. Government "safety net" payments will increase sharply.

Now law firm principals will be able to pay their associates a living wage.

I haven't figured out the connection between a $9 happy meal and the legal profession but I'm SURE there's a benefit hiding somewhere. Mr Morgan should know by now that when businesses are forced to pay a higher and higher minimum wage, more and more jobs disappear. You're seeing more and more machines and less and less entry level jobs.

And, the corrollary is that when consumers have more and more money, they buy more and more goods and services, and businesses increase their hiring to meet the increasing demand. This has happened regularly in American economic history.

YOUR "corollary" inference proposition, is as dangerous as a "heart attack" to our economy.

We survived the "heart attack" in the economy directly caused by Bush-Cheney in 2008 ... and that was much, much worse than anything a $15 minimum wage might cause today! Austrailia has a national $15 (USD) minimum wage ... has had no recessions in some 30 years ... and currently has a vibrant economy ranked among the top half-dozen or so of the world's best-performing countries.

It will force business to raise prices to cover all the extra costs. That negates any gains made thru the wage increase. If you want more money do something about it and don't expect or demand the Government does it for you. Go to collage and learn something other than gender studies. Go to trade school and learn a trade. That's how you make more money.

I've talked to truckers, teachers, trades(wo)men, retailers involved involved in sales and even hiring managers for things like pharmacy technicians, among others. I could go on and on ad nauseum to list many other professions providing services that we need or at least expect, all of which require some sort of training or degree. All of them expressed the same thing. "You used to be able to make a living doing what I do, but not anymore". This isn't about minimum wage, it's about a living wage. This is about one simple principle that should be true regardless of being conservative or liberal, capitalist or socialist. If you expect someone to work for a living, that person should expect a living for their work. Think of a household as a small business or subcontractor. If the main business or general contractor is making money, but the smaller business or sub isn't, that is a failed business arrangement. That main company has a model that is actually a failure but has been allowed to thrive. When workers can't get the private sector to see the light (see just about any news site for the frustration economists have been feeling in the past couple years to explain it) and make wages reflect a booming economy, then collective bargaining, teacher strikes even when technically illegal, or going into the gig economy and even protesting or demanding government action is completely valid. People are sick of earning half a living. Jobs that don't pay an actual living are everywhere. That is a failed business model that needs to end. If you demand that a person works for a living, that person has the right to demand a living for their work.

GO, John! After all the babblers finally stop their babbling, the problem that will actually sink this country is ... income inequality! Hopefully, it's not already too late to begin fixing it!

"Income inequality"; Me thinks you have revealed your "communist tendencies" herein "VotedBlue"..!

You comments here prove over and over again that what you "thinks" is typically w-a-y off-the-wall and, often, much worse.

But, it's fruitless to think that "John" can "fix it"; (He's already feeding more "chins" than a Chinese restaurant)! He'll just have to put up more roadside signs...

What happens when the $15 per hour requirement forces business people to decide to use fewer people or shift to part-time employees with less hours. I believe that happened in Seattle or Portland last year. Many of those that celebrated the raise required by the City, found out that their hours were reduced or that they were in a higher tax bracket. All the change will do is increase the number working poor and the number of people reliant upon government.

Austrailia has a $15 (in U.S. dollars) national minimum wage, is economically resilient and stable, and hasn't had a recessionary period in 30 years!

But, WHO goes THERE ?!?

Who cares "WHO goes THERE"? The benefits of a good Australian economy are primarily intended for Austrailian citizens and workers - not "visitors".

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