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Politics

Minimum Wage Proposal First Measure to Qualify for 2020 Ballot

October 31, 2019 - 6:00am
John Morgan and Ron DeSantis
John Morgan and Ron DeSantis

The Florida Division of Elections has confirmed sponsors of a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 have secured enough validated voter signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

According to the DOE, as of Tuesday afternoon, Florida For A Fair Wage had submitted 766,352 signatures, surpassing the 766,200 required to be presented to voters in a statewide election.

The measure must still be vetted in a review by the state’s Supreme Court and undergo a fiscal impact study by the state’s Financial Impact Estimating Committee (FIEC).

It is the first of as many as eight citizen-initiated petition drives seeking to qualify for the November 2020 ballot by filing 766,200 signatures with the DOE by Feb. 1.

The proposed constitutional amendment 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.

After 2026, the constitutional amendment will require the state to raise the minimum wage annually in accordance with inflation.

Florida For A Fair Wage’s “Fight For 15” effort is spearheaded by chairman John Morgan, a prominent Orlando trial attorney whose law firm has contributed nearly all the $4.78 million the campaign has garnered in funding, although the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Action Fund recently donated $250,000.

The DOE’s announcement that Florida For A Fair Wage had secured a place on the 2020 ballot followed criticism of the proposal by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Speaking before the Associated Industries of Florida Conference in Tallahassee in a speech live-streamed on his Facebook page Monday, DeSantis said the proposal would cause “big, big upheavals” for the hospitality industry, especially restaurants.

The state’s minimum wage for tipped employees is $5.44 an hour, about $3 less than the standard minimum wage. Restaurants receive “tip credit” for the difference, which would remain at $3 an hour under the constitutional amendment.

This would unfairly raise salaries often-marginal businesses have to pay in salaries, ultimately costing jobs and stymiing business growth, DeSantis said.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association says the average tipped employee in Florida makes more than the proposed $15 minimum wage.

The proposed amendment would result in businesses shifting from tipped employees toward automation or employees at the fixed hourly rate, the association said.

The measure is “going to cause big, big upheavals for the restaurant industry. It just will,” he said, praising the Legislature for adopting a 2019 law that makes it more difficult and expensive for citizen-initiated petitions to qualify for the ballot.

DeSantis said that organizing citizen-initiated petitions has become a “cottage industry” for national consultants and a “game” wealthy donors can orchestrate – an oblique reference to Morgan, who also largely financed 2016’s successful ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana.

“If you’re going to amend the constitution it should be provisions similar to what we’ve seen with the federal Constitution,” he said. “Term limits, which we have. Two-thirds [legislative majority] to raise taxes. Structural changes or things where you are protecting individual rights.”

A minimum wage measure should not be incorporated into the constitution. DeSantis said.

“When you put that in the constitution, we can’t just go back and say, ‘Oh, let’s tweak it, let’s do that,’” he said. “You literally would have to go back and do another constitutional amendment.”

In an email to the News Service of Florida, Morgan invited DeSantis to save voters all the fuss and just raise the state’s minimum wage.

DeSantis “has a chance to have a fair minimum wage enacted in the next session,” Morgan wrote. “If it was fair, maybe I could agree. If it is eyewash, I will know. If it is fair, I will drop my initiative.”

Morgan also noted DeSartis’ reference to getting initiatives on ballots being a “game” for wealthy donors.

“This is not a game to me. It is a matter of morality and dignity,” Morgan said. “Had voters not weighed in [by passing a constitutional amendment] we would not have medical marijuana. The pharmaceutical industry would have ensured that. Felons would not have the right to vote."

John Haughey is the Florida contributor to The Center Square.

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You are paid what you're worth. If you're performing a job that 10,000 other people can do obviously your make less money. If you're performing a job that only 100 others can do then you get more money. People are hired for one reason, to make money for those who employ them. If the pay is not a “living wage” then get another job that pays more. It's a free country. Get a skill that pays more. There are plenty of programs that can help. Most of all stop whining.

You’ll STILL only get $3.00 worth of “work”, even IF $MW$ IS raised to $15 or $20 or even $50... and Morgan “ more Chins than a Chinese Restaurant” just keeps pandering to his lowest “customer base”, that’s how frantic he must be getting.

Why would a Republican news site use a picture of DeSantis like that? BTW, mandating a living wage is to the GOP like admitting climate change, or reinstating the federal ban on assault rifles, or actually making sure every American has decent health care....none of these issues satisfies the "what's in it for me?" test.

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Good news! VERY good news! BUT, the number should be something closer to $20 - probably $20 for certain by 2026 after considering inflation and the drastically rising cost-of-living in Florida! As it is now, the vast majority of working class Floridians cannot cover the cost of the necessities of life. This is clearly a poor-pay state and it has been so forever. Wasn't all that bad when the cost of living here was "a bargain" - but that's definitely no longer the case!

Yes, it should be raised to at least $100 per hour - maybe $200. Then everyone will have what they need. It's that simple.

That's ridiculous and stupid. Minimum wage should be set to at least $500 per hour. That way everyone will be able to live in a mansion like me. AND they'll be able to afford a beach house too! The only thing standing between poverty and prosperity is the minimum wage - NOTHING ELSE!

A somewhat noble idea, but like most progressive thought, it fails to account for the unintended results from enacting such a law. Sounds good but at what ultimate cost of jobs?. Documentation of the aftermath of such legislation in liberal cities like Seattle, Manhattan, etc. shows small businesses such a bars, upscale restaurants, coffee shops, fast food establishments, boutiques, etc., etc. cannot survive. It will also hasten the introduction of IA to supplant the less efficient human labor model. Ordering kiosks are much preferred and accepted when minimum wage help with few skill sets can't get a simple order correct. With less opportunity for the low rung jobs, the working taxpayers and retirees will be called upon to provide more safety nets via higher income or property tax assessments. And it always seems to be the middle class that feels the burden the worst. Sad, very sad. And what about those who do possess a few marketable skills being paid $18-20/ hour? Do we have to adjust their pay scale upwards to $22 - 25 /Hr to reward employees that are not unskilled to maintain fairness? In a capitalistic free market model, the supply and demand dynamic no longer function efficiently with these wealth re-distribution schemes. Happy I am retiring soon from this madness.

The cash registers are MUCH smarter than all the minimum wage employees!

Set down your crack pipe.

You've made some excellent points. The one that people don't talk about much is that everyone that makes at or above $15 will effectively get a wage reduction as the products and services that they buy will cost more while their pay is the same. I truly believe that this amendment will NOT pass. Most thinking people will realize the danger and so the 60% threshold will not be reached. Thank God we raised the threshold to 60% some years back - and for reasons just like this!

If you think there are too many people in Florida now.......Or, too many illegals watch what happens after this stupid idea passes.

Right! "Too many people" - and without the infrastructure and diversified economy necessary to support them!

It's difficult to grasp that even $15 an hour or approximately $30,000 per year gross minus uncle sams cut is enough to live on for a single person. If one factors in the cost of housing, auto insurance, health insurance, food, utilities, its a wonder how people are surviving on the current minimum wage.

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