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For struggling Florida litigants, changing the law is an easier option

Two years ago, a powerful business trade group filed a lawsuit against the state’s largest county, Miami-Dade, arguing that its program to help workers recover unpaid wages was unconstitutional.

But with the case still being fought in court, the Florida Retail Federation also launched a campaign to pass HB 609, which would change state law to outlaw the county’s program.

“We think the Dade County ordinance violates Article 5, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution, where it says ‘No municipality, no county can establish a court or a tribunal,’” the FRF’s senior vice president John Rogers told lawmakers during a recent hearing in this year’s legislative session.

It’s an argument the FRF has tried to make before a Miami-Dade judge for the last two years — so far without success.

The Legislature appears to be friendlier than the courts. The House of Representatives passed HB 609 last week, and the bill could effectively quash the court battle and kill Miami-Dade’s program.

The FRF’s strategy is not isolated. Some well-connected litigants struggling to make their case before a Florida judge are choosing what they see as a far better option: Hire high-priced lobbyists and change the law before the judge can rule.

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