Legislation to ensure Major League Baseball team owners could continue to pay players on their minor league teams less than Florida’s minimum wage is ready for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature after The House passed the measure.
House lawmakers passed the bill (SB 892) on an 86-30 vote, with Rep. Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville the only Democrat to vote with Republicans in favor of it. But the Senate approved it unanimously last week.
Democrats argued the bill was simply a way to help MLB owners continue to underpay minor league players.
“We need to ensure that no matter who you are, you have the ability to have a living wage and can actually buy groceries for what you’re doing,” said Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Miami Democrat.
Congress gave MLB a carve-out for federal minimum wage laws when it renewed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2018. But two years later, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment to increase the minimum wage to $10 and then increase it by $1 each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.
Currently, the Florida minimum wage is $11 and will increase to $12 on Sept. 30. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.
The bill clarifies that Florida’s minimum wage law includes the exemptions for the MLB in federal law.
Republican supporters of the bill said they were only seeking to align state minimum wage laws with the federal law. But bill sponsor Rep. Brad Yeager, a New Port Richey Republican, raised the specter of teams limiting access to their facilities for players if the bill didn’t pass.
“We could even see managers have to pull players in the middle of the sixth inning because if they don’t they’re going to go over their work hours,” Yeager said.
But nothing in current law has led to such a scenario.
MLB owners unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement with minor league players last month to increase their pay.