The effort by grassroots advocates to get mandatory sick time to workers in Orange and Miami-Dade counties will be all for nothing if Florida GOP leaders have their way.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, two Central Florida Senators, David Simmons of Altamonte Springs and Steve Precourt of Orlando, are claiming that the proposed sick-time initiatives in Orange and Miami-Dade Counties could put those counties at a economic disadvantage. Simmons told the Sentinel:
The discrimination that would occur to employers only in Orange County is so significant; we would need to have a statewide solution to this issue.
In the fall of 2012, Citizens for a Greater Orange County, a progressive grassroots coalition, gathered more than 50,000 voter signatures to put a sick-time measure on the ballot last November. But on September 11, Orange County commissioners voted to delay the referendum. According to the Sentinel, a court battle over the referendum prompted commissioners to delay the referendum. But if Simmons and Precourt have their way, the court fight over the referendum will not be worth it.
The sick-time measure would require businesses with 15 or more workers to provide paid sick leave to their workers. Supporters of the measure claim that mandatory sick-time would provide economic stability for ailing workers. But many businesses, including hotel and restaurant operators, oppose the idea, which they claim would be expensive and would kill jobs and growth. The Florida Restaurant & Lodging issued out a briefing to the media. They wrote:
Many variables come into play that could be extremely burdensome on business. If a business has locations in 30 counties in Florida, they could have 30 different rules to follow.
On the opposition side, Stephanie Porta, leader of the Citizens coalition, told the Sentinel that lawmakers in Central Florida work to suppress the local voting rights in order to protect the profits of restaurants and tourism interest. Porta told the Sentinel:
It's no surprise that Simmons and Precourt, who have voted 100 percent with Governor Rick Scott against middle class Floridians, would go out of their was to deny more than 50,000 Orange County citizens the right to vote for an issue they petitioned their government for. They are flacks for big business special interest.
According to the Sentinel, in Orange County, Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants and Mears Transportation all lobbied to put the sick-time measure on ice. They have also challenged the ballot language, saying it is misleading. In an interview to the Sentinel, Orange County GOP Chairman Lew Oliver said the ballot measure is "borderline evil" and would kill job and economic growth in Orange County. He told the Sentinel:
I don't think the economy can absorb it
Orange County is not the only county to explore a sick-time measure. Milwaukee, Wisconsin voters voted to back a similar sick-pay measure in 2008. State GOP lawmakers challenged the measure in court, but it survived. In 2011, Governor Scott Walker pre-empt the law with a statewide law.