Of the many constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot, one has special resonance to both low-wage workers and the companies that employ them.
The push to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2026, which is Amendment 2 on the Florida ballot, is one business interests strongly resist, but it may pass anyway.
The ballot initiative from Florida For A Fair Wage is lawyer John Morgan‘s priority for the 2020 cycle, with the more than $5.2 million campaign largely funded by Morgan and his law firm, Morgan and Morgan P.A.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the business community fiercely oppose the amendment, with the “Amendment 2 Hurts You” group arguing it would destroy small businesses struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus crisis.
Morgan contends opposition is just the business community justifying “slave wages” for those in the service sectors.
The fight this proposal faces is typical of many proposed constitutional amendments, including an effort last year to invalidate it via the Florida Supreme Court.
“The proposed amendment clearly addresses only one subject, raising the minimum wage, and it does not substantially alter or perform the functions of multiple branches of government,” the court ruled. “Although it may affect contracts entered into and wages paid by each branch of government, these effects are incidental to the chief purpose of the amendment, which is not to alter or perform any governmental function.”
If the amendment passes, the minimum wage, currently $8.46 an hour, would increase to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021, and then it would rise a dollar more a year until 2026.
Morgan, a veteran of ballot initiative campaigns including the successful push for medical cannabis in 2016, knows that making the ballot is just one step toward ratification.
“Now, the sprint to reverse decades of inequality really starts — and let me tell you — this is going to be a tough challenge. But just like voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana in 2016, I’m confident that we will do the same in 2020,” he said last year, early in the campaign.
Polling shows that mandate may be somewhat less than overwhelming.
A survey released last week from Florida Atlantic University shows the measure just over 2-to-1 with voters, with 62% approval, 30% disapproval, and 8% unsure.
A poll released earlier this month from the University of North Florida was somewhat less favorable, meanwhile, with 60% approval and 37% against it. UNF’s polling director urged tempered expectations, noting that ballot initiatives “almost always poll much better than the final vote.”