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After heated debate, bill to strip counties of wage-theft prevention power clears subcommittee

A bill that would stop county governments like Miami-Dade from enacting wage theft protection ordinances moved through the House Subcommittee on Consumer and Military Affairs, along party lines.

 The bill, sponsored by  Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville,  pits low-wage workers and unions  against big business interests,  and stirred up heated debate during the hearing. Miami-Dade County has a wage-theft protection system that supporters say helps disenfranchised workers recover unpaid wages from their employers. Opponents, which include small government lawmakers and the business lobby, say that Miami-Dade’s program operates as a “kangaroo court,” and could lead to 67 counties with a “patchwork” of 67 different laws for what should be a federal issue.

 “Today, you have the Dade County ordinance,  and Palm Beach is looking at an ordinance,” said John Rogers, of the Florida Retail Federation, which supports the bill. “To say that this would not a result in a patchwork is false.”

 Most lawmakers who spoke said that they were against wage theft and that there should be a law at the state level to address the problem. The bill, HB 609, did not speak to creating a state law.

 When Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, made a motion to table the issue so that lawmakers could amend the bill and add language creating a statewide law, representatives voted it down along party lines. Many of the lawmakers who said they were for a statewide law, voted against Randolph’s motion to get the ball rolling on doing that.

 After that vote, Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, was visibly unhappy. She stood up during a brief recess and told Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, “This is ridiculous! Have a conscience.”

 Just minutes prior, Van Zant said he would ask Goodson, the bill’s sponsor, to work toward including a statewide law including in future language. He then voted against Randolph’s motion, which would allow lawmakers to add statewide language to the bill and take it up at a later time.

 About a dozen people spoke in opposition of the bill, representing many of South Florida’s wage activist groups and Miami-Dade County. Representatives from the Florida Restaurants and Lodging Association, Associated Industries of Florida and other business groups spoke in support of the bill.

 Richard Templin, of the Florida AFL-CIO, said that wage theft is at least a $28 million dollar problem in the state, and likely much more. In Miami-Dade’s program, mediators have recovered more than $900,000 in unpaid wages.

Randolph pointed out that lawmakers last year passed a growth management bill that sent power back to the county level, and would create a “patchwork” of different development laws that varied from county to county.

Goodson said the bill was not about allowing wage theft to continue, but about making sure that the laws were uniform and fair across the state.

The bill has passed two subcommittees in the House.

 

Comments

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tarpley

Scott/GOP is out to destroy the American Middle Class.

bogotabro

There is no viable argument supporting this bill that cannot be countered with logical, moral dissent. If you don't break the law and engage in wage-theft, then the "patchwork" of laws has no bearing on you. Yet they call this a "wage protection" bill, when what it does is makes it easier for unscrupulous employers to get away with wage theft. What a disgusting, overflowing crock of steaming BS.

Can't Take Anymore

This is the new Republican strategy to end abortion among the middle and lower classes. By stripping them of any health insurance coverage and subjecting them to starvation wages (to further enrich the blessed 1%) the working class won't be able to get any type of medical treatment unless in prison or the military. Problem solved and they will be perpetually re-elected because their thousands of TV ad's will convince the suckers to keep them in office. And so it goes.

peanut

While they are at it, they should also have a statewide law protecting employees from poor care through workman's comp. Many people are becoming permanently disabled due to poor treatment through workman's comp.

Joe Hart

Yeah, while there at it, maybe they will consider a bill to allow slavery. Let's bring back Slavery. Actually we don't need to bring it back, it's alive and well in Florida. If wage theft isn't slavery I don't know what is. Don't be fooled by the argument that laws to protect against wage theft. There are laws but they don't work for the poor who just got ripped off of $200.00 or $300.00 they worked their tail off for. Who wants to make a federal case out of that? Goodson and FL Retail what is wrong with you?

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