On the heels of a Circuit Court ruling issued last Friday by a three judge panel ordering the Orange County Commission to place the mandatory paid sick leave referendum on the ballot the action now shifts to the State Capital this week when HB 655, a measure authored by House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Precourt (R-Orlando) to effectively negate any referendum by prohibiting Florida political subdivisions from requiring employers to provide certain employment benefits, such as paid sick leave, will receive its first hearing in the House Local and Federal Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
In introducing the legislation Rep. Precourt told Every Monday, "I'm glad to file this bill to insure a positive business climate and level playing field exists throughout Florida and we do not have a hodge-podge of conflicting local ordinances and regulations adversely impacting our businesses on matters that are clearly best left to the private sector and not government to determine."
The Precourt legislation was prompted by recent efforts by special interest groups in Orange County and Miami-Dade County largely funded by out-of-state organizations to mandate paid sick leave for employees. In Orange County, their efforts led to a petition drive in 2012 to place a paid sick leave referendum on last November's general election ballot. However, the Orange County Commission on Sept. 11th delayed placing the referendum on the November ballot when the referendum proponents publicly admitted changes were needed to the defective ballot language. A lawsuit that is still pending contesting the referendum and challenging the confusing, deceptive and misleading ballot language had earlier been spearheaded and coordinated by the Central Florida Partnership on behalf of Orlando, Inc. and a host of local and statewide business organizations.
Central Florida Partnership Vice President for Public Policy Mike Ketchum hailed the Precourt legislation stating, "Leader Precourt recognizes this as bad public policy and he fully understands the unintended consequences that would result from this ill-conceived, job-killing initiative being promoted by certain special interest groups who are avowed opponents of our free enterprise system. Ketchum added, "In their haste to achieve at the ballot box an entitlement for themselves the referendum proponents admittedly deceived petition signers and chose to ignore the disastrous effects this onerous mandate would have on Florida businesses by placing them at a competitive disadvantage and under a compliance nightmare at a time when many are still desperately struggling to keep their doors open in today's economy."
Meanwhile, SB 726, a bill also aimed at preempting paid sick leave mandates by political subdivisions has been filed in the Florida Senate by Sen. David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and is awaiting its first Senate committee hearing.
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