SB 1520/HB 6065 would restore local governments’
power to set worker wages and protections
Sen. José Javier Rodríguez (D-Miami) and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) have introduced legislation to restore local governments’ power to set worker wages, benefits, and earned sick time.
SB1520 / HB 6065 simply repeals Florida Statute 218.077, language signed into law in 2013 by Governor Rick Scott and backed by powerful corporate interests, as a direct response to a citizen-led initiative in Orange County to place earned sick time on the ballot. The law made moot the 2014 referendum, and the voices of the over 50,000 voters in Orange County who signed a petition for the opportunity to vote on the issue. Though the election results were preempted by this law, local voters overwhelmingly approved of the earned sick time measure in 2014 (2014 ballot linked here; results linked here).
Senator José Javier Rodríguez offered the following statement:
“Floridians strongly support their local government having the authority to enact policies across an array of issue areas, including worker protections. This legislation simply restores local governments authority to make local decisions regarding minimum wage and earned sick time, issues critical to working families.”
Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith offered the following statement:
“In 2013 this legislature, backed by powerful corporate interests, overruled the will of Orange County voters by preempting minimum wage increases and earned sick time ordinances to the state. Rather than rise to the occasion, big businesses wielded their power to keep standards low and profits high. HB 6065 puts power back to the government closest to the people, out of the hands of special corporate interests.”
A statewide poll released late last year shows that Florida voters overwhelmingly trust and support their local governments and are wary of efforts from the legislature to intervene in local matters. The poll, conducted by Moore Information Group and commissioned by the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC), found that 81 percent of voters agree that local elected officials should have the freedom to enact local measures that pertain to a community’s public safety, economy, and environment. Eighty percent of respondents said that their local governments are more in-tune with local needs than the state legislature, and should be able to pass policies that reflect their community’s needs and values. Floridians aren’t alone in their strong support of local government – new research from LSSC released earlier this year found that voters in multiple states trusted their local governments much more than state legislatures.
The poll’s findings stand in sharp contrast to the actions of lawmakers in Tallahassee in recent years. Corporate special interest groups have pressured state lawmakers to advance an aggressive deregulatory agenda, passing bills that preempt local authority across an array of issue areas, and even going so far as to retaliate with fines and legal action against local elected officials who deviate from Tallahassee’s mandates.
SB 1520 / HB 6065 is one effort of many to restore home rule in Florida.