Political struggle continues over Orange County charter despite intervention of state legislature
Over the last couple of years, paid sick leave
laws were enacted in Connecticut, New York City and Washington DC. Serious
efforts are also underway in Vermont and Massachusetts, with 18 other states
and six major cities also debating the issue.
Florida, which surrounds Orlando, nearly succeeded in a similar effort. After
groups successfully collected sufficient signatures to put paid sick leave on
the ballot, the Orange County Commissioners, with the support of the business
community, enacted legislation to block the effort. A court overturned the
Commissioners’ action, however, and ordered the measure placed on the ballot
for the August 2014 primary elections.
At that point,
the state legislature became involved, passing legislation barring local
governments from enacting such a measure and calling for a legislative task
force to examine the issue, rendering the Orange County ballot measure moot.
Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the legislation last summer, over the protests of
labor groups and progressive activists.
NFIB/Florida’s Bill Herrle said, “Mandatory paid leave passed at the local
level is a job killer – avoiding a crazy quilt of leave mandates throughout the
state was absolutely critical for small business this year. Disparate local
leave laws disincentivize businesses from expanding and operating in multiple
municipalities, and small-business owners cannot survive with one-size-fits-all
mandates that take away their right to determine the best benefits for their
year, a legislative task force approved a draft report which supports
lawmakers’ move last year to block Orange County and other local governments
from pushing through rules requiring businesses to offer a minimum number of
sick leave days.
What this Means for Small Business in the Orlando Area:
While the state legislature’s action made the issue dormant for the time being,
it remains a priority of union groups in the region. With a hotly contested
gubernatorial election just months away, a significant change in the political
makeup of the government in the state could see proposals to mandate paid sick
leave return. In particular, Gov. Scott faces a tough reelection bid, in which
he is expected to square off against former Gov. Charlie Crist (D). Recent
polls show Crist, who previously served as governor as a Republican, with a
small lead over Scott.
As for the
impact of such a bill, a report from the NFIB Research Foundation looked at the
potential impact of a similar law on employers in the state of Massachusetts.
That report found that the enactment of such rules could cost the state
thousands of jobs, and significantly reduce economic activity.
The Orlando Sentinel
reports on proposed changes for the County Commission, and features local
activists indicating that they’ll continue to push for paid sick leave. The Orlando Sentinel
also reports on the task force’s recommendations. A variety of stories cover
the history of the battle over paid sick leave, including the Orlando Sentinel,
and an older piece in the Orlando Sentinel.
covers the broader debate over paid sick leave around the nation.
Learn more about NFIB in Florida.