Democrats, Labor Urge Gov. Scott To Veto Wage Bill

Jun 4, 2013

Florida Democrats and advocates for working folk are turning up all the pressure they can to wring a veto out of Gov. Rick Scott sometime this month.

THEY WANT A VETO: Miami State Senator Dwight Bullard (in black) and State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (center with red tie) call for a veto of House Bill 655 at a rally in downtown Miami.
Credit Rick Stone

Their target? House Bill 655, passed during the 2013 legislative session to stop local governments from exceeding federal minimum wage and benefit guarantees.

If the governor signs the bill, counties such as Broward and Miami-Dade with special "living wage" ordinances already on their books, will have to abandon then.

Orange County will have to scuttle its upcoming referendum on requiring paid sick leave for most workers, despite the signature campaign that brought it to the ballot.

And no other county or municipality will be allowed to pass wage or benefit ordinances of their own.

The bill's sponsors insisted during its run-up to passage that a "patchwork" of local ordinances would destroy jobs as prospective employers opted for states with more homogeneous wage and benefit rules.

Opponents -- mostly Democrats from the progressive wing -- said denying sick pay would become a public health issue as restaurant cooks and wait staff came to work ill rather than risk losing pay by calling in sick.

But what sets up the big philosophical divide is the giant usurpation of local prerogative by conservative lawmakers who are more usually seen arguing for smaller government and local decision-making.

The bill has yet to reach the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, and the governor has yet to telegraph his intentions.

Within 15 days of the day it lands on his desk, the governor much either veto it or sign it into law. Otherwise, it will become law without his signature.