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Lawmakers React To Governor Ron DeSantis’ Criticism Of Florida Minimum Wage Proposal

Reactions from lawmakers are coming in after Governor Ron DeSantis criticized a proposal to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour through a constitutional amendment.

While speaking at an Associated Industries of Florida conference in Tallahassee on Monday, the governor warned that an across-the-board raise of Florida’s minimum wage could harm the restaurant industry and “handcuff” future legislation. 

Republican State Representative Randy Fine of Palm Bay echoed the governor’s concerns and took issue with policy-oriented amendments.

“The amendment process should be used to do things that can not be done through law, not as a substitute for the legislative process,” Fine said.

Across the aisle, Democratic State Representative Anna Eskamani from Orlando said the amendment would address inaction by a legislature she said is controlled by corporations. 

“When the legislature doesn’t act on something, the voters have the power to circumvent the legislature and do something about it,” Eskamani said.

Lawmakers are also divided on the pros and cons of nearly doubling the Sunshine State’s minimum wage.

Fine added that businesses would find cheaper alternatives and displace workers if the proposal passed.

“Never one time has it worked without putting large numbers of people out of work,” Fine said. “This is not in dispute. This destroys jobs, it does not help people.”

While on the other side of the spectrum, Eskamani said no one would benefit greater than Florida’s workers.

“I think that any one of my colleagues should spend a day in a minimum wage worker’s shoes and then realize that the people who benefit the most from this are gonna be our workers,” Eskamani said. 

Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.46 dollars per hour, while tipped employees earn $5.44 dollars per hour.

Advocates hope to have the amendment on the 2020 ballot.

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