$15 wage bump will ap­pear on ’20 bal­lot

Florid­i­ans will be able to vote on the mea­sure fol­low­ing court re­view

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Steven Le­mon­gello

Florid­i­ans will vote next year on whether to raise the state’s min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, an amend­ment ini­tia­tive led by Orlando at­tor­ney John Morgan that’s al­ready draw­ing op­po­si­tion from Re­pub­li­can lead­ers and the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

The ini­tia­tive that will be called Amend­ment 2 made the Novem­ber bal­lot af­ter its word­ing was ap­proved by the Florida Supreme Court in a de­ci­sion re­leased Thurs­day.

Court re­view was the last ob­sta­cle to get­ting the mea­sure on the bal­lot af­ter Morgan’s Florida for a Fair Wage col­lected more than 770,000 of the re­quired 766,200 sig­na­tures.

The amend­ment would raise the min­i­mum wage to $10 per hour be­gin­ning Sept. 30, 2021, and in­crease it an ad­di­tional dol­lar each year un­til it reached $15 in 2026.

Af­ter that, fu­ture in­creases would be ad­justed an­nu­ally for in­fla­tion.

The cur­rent min­i­mum wage of $8.46 is sched­uled to in­crease to $8.56 on Jan. 1.

The pro­posal al­ready has drawn the ire of busi­ness groups such as the Florida Cham­ber of Com­merce and Florida Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion.

“This bal­lot mea­sure will actu

ally hurt the very peo­ple its pro­po­nent claims it will help,” said Edie Ous­ley, vice pres­i­dent of pub­lic af­fairs for the Florida Cham­ber, in an email to News Ser­vice of Florida on Thurs­day.

“This is the poster child for a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment mas­querad­ing as a turnout weapon to im­pact the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.”

Re­pub­li­cans have also crit­i­cized the pro­posal, with state House Speaker Jose Oliva say­ing in an email, “There’s noth­ing com­pas­sion­ate about man­dat­ing some­one’s job out of ex­is­tence and rob­bing them of the dig­nity of work. … This ar­bi­trar­ily cho­sen dol­lar fig­ure, while ap­plauded on the cock­tail cir­cuit, will cost work­ing fam­i­lies their jobs and that is some­thing I can­not sup­port.”

Gov. Ron DeSan­tis’ of­fice did not re­turn a re­quest for com­ment.

Morgan, how­ever, wrote in an email, “I was con­fi­dent in my lan­guage and am con­fi­dent it will pass. This is not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, this is a re­li­gious is­sue and moral is­sue.”

“WWJD?” he added, re­fer­ring to the say­ing “What Would Je­sus Do?”

Morgan, whose Orlando firm has con­trib­uted more than $4.6 mil­lion to the cam­paign, pre­vi­ously spear­headed a suc­cess­ful med­i­cal mar­i­juana ini­tia­tive in 2016.

In its rul­ing, the court stated that the amend­ment meets the sin­gle-sub­ject re­quire­ment, and it de­clined to rule on At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ash­ley Moody’s re­quest to re­view the state’s fi­nan­cial im­pact state­ment.

The state had es­ti­mated that if the amend­ment passed, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment costs would in­crease to meet the new min­i­mum wage by about $16 mil­lion in 2022 up to about $540 mil­lion in 2027.

The court re­versed a pre­vi­ous rul­ing that it had the power to re­view fi­nan­cial state­ments, say­ing it “can­not ex­er­cise ju­ris­dic­tion that the con­sti­tu­tion does not pro­vide.”

The amend­ment be­comes the first to of­fi­cially lock a spot on the 2020 bal­lot.

Amend­ment 1, which would man­date that only U.S. cit­i­zens could vote in state and lo­cal elec­tions, and Amend­ment 3, which would create non­par­ti­san “jun­gle” pri­maries, are listed as be­ing on the bal­lot but could still be re­moved if the Supreme Court rules against their lan­guage.

Other po­ten­tial bal­lot ini­tia­tives in­clude mea­sures that would le­gal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana, ban as­sault weapons and re­quire every bal­lot pro­posal to be ap­proved twice be­fore tak­ing ef­fect.

An amend­ment re­quires 60% of the vote to pass.

Morgan ex­pressed con­fi­dence that Amend­ment 2 would pass.

“Now, the sprint to re­verse decades of in­equal­ity re­ally starts — and let me tell you — this is go­ing to be a tough chal­lenge,” Morgan told News Ser­vice of Florida.

“But just like vot­ers over­whelm­ingly voted in fa­vor of med­i­cal mar­i­juana in 2016, I’m con­fi­dent that we will do the same in 2020.”

Morgan

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