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Survey shows Floridians want municipalities to be able to raise minimum wage

In 2003, Florida lawmakers prohibited municipalities from setting wage rates.

According to a new Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday, over two-thirds of Floridians disagree with the law — and that the state should not restrict local governments from establishing their own minimum wages.

In 2016, Miami Beach challenged state law when its City Commission approved an ordinance proposed by former Mayor Philip Levine to set the minimum wage at $10.31 starting this year, ultimately rising to $13.31 within the next four years.

Business groups and the state responded with a lawsuit against the city; so far, two appeals courts have denied that increase, citing Florida’s 2004 constitutional amendment establishing a minimum wage slightly higher than the federal rate.

The PPP survey of 574 Florida voters shows that 67 percent of Floridians believe cities should be allowed to raise the minimum wage higher than the state’s $8.25 level. Just over a quarter (28 percent) disagreed; five percent reported they were “not sure.”

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That includes 53 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents, and 79 percent of Democrats think that Florida cities should be able to raise the state minimum wage, currently $8.25.

A majority of respondents also believe local governments already have the power to adopt local minimum wage laws higher than the state’s minimum.

“Floridians understand that every community is different, and the minimum wage that works in one city may not work in another,” said Laura Huizar, staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “This poll shows that Florida voters across party lines believe their cities should be able to adopt a higher local minimum wage, and they also believe that Florida cities already have the right to adopt a higher minimum wage under the state Constitution.”

The City of Miami Beach claims that the language in the 2004 amendment gives Florida cities power to enact minimum wage, and pre-empts the Legislature’s 2003 law.

But the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled against Miami Beach, which is now petitioning the Florida Supreme Court to take up the issue.

The Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit in December 2016 challenging the ordinance. They claimed it was a direct violation of a 2013 law signed by the Governor that forbid municipalities from assigning their own minimum wage.

The State of Florida joined the suit in February 2017.

When proposing the legislation, Levine, now a Democratic candidate for Governor, boasted: “I’m sure it will end up going to court at some point, but we feel that we have very significant legal grounds to stand on.”

On the same conference call, the Local Solutions Support Center announced a national survey from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research and Moore Information showing people trust local government most, and object to state interference in what is mostly a local matter.

The groups say that more than 40 states passed laws pre-empting cities and counties from taking action on some local issues; over the past few years in Florida, it’s been a source of anger among both Democrats and Republicans at the local level.

At the start of the 2018 Legislative Session, lawmakers filed more than two dozen bills that would potentially stifle local governments.

Florida Association of Counties spokeswoman Cragin Mosteller decried this latest legislative attack against “home rule,” citing a variety of measures, from abolishing local tree boards to preventing local government from regulating vacation rentals.

The survey took place in three-day online focus groups with likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas. Mixed in with those numbers was a national online survey of 811 registered voters.

PPP interviewed 574 Florida voters in a telephone poll conducted between January 31 and February 1.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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