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Task force takes shape to study mandatory paid-sick-leave

UPDATE: House Speaker Will Weatherford sent over his list of appointees to the task force.

  • -Florida State University economics professor Randall Holcombe, filling the slot set aside for a business economist.
  • -Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven.
  • -Walter Carpenter, an Orlando real estate appraiser representing Florida business owners with less than 50 employees.
  • -Gregory Riehle of Wesley Chapel, the owner of Saddlebrook Resorts representing Florida business owners with more than 50 employees.
  • -Marcia Gonzalez, Political Director of the Florida Carpenters Regional Council, a labor union.


Senate President Don Gaetz has announced the first four members of a task force that will study how state law affects the benefits companies can offer employees. The group will eventually grow to 11 people to bring recommendations to the Legislature next year in hopes of creating one statewide standard regarding mandatory paid-sick-leave.

Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott signed House 655 into law a bill, which temporarily banned cities and counties from requiring local employers to offer paid-sick-leave. Companies like Disney and Darden Restaurants, as well as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, argued the ban was needed to avoid having to deal with a patchwork of different rules.

The outcome of the law was to block efforts pushed by liberal organizations and labor unions in Orange County to enact mandatory paid-sick-time there. The issue was scheduled to be included on the county's ballot in August 2014 after supporters collected 50,000 signatures to trigger the referendum.

Gaetz, who says his fifth pick will be a doctor, and House Speaker Will Weatherford will appoint a total of 10 people to the task force. The president of Workforce Florida, Chris Hart, will serve as the 11th member and chairman.

Here is the full press release from Gaetz: 

Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) today named a business leader, a union representative and a legislator to the state panel analyzing current employee benefit trends in Florida. The Benefits Study Task Force will also evaluate the impact of state laws pre-empting local governments from mandating health and benefit levels for private sector companies in their jurisdictions.

Appointed were Jeff Clyne, president of Mid-State Machine and Fabricating Corporation headquartered in Lakeland; Andy Madtes, a South Florida union leader; and Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island). They join Art Kimbrough, a small business owner from Marianna, whom the President appointed previously. Gaetz is also expected to choose a physician to round out the Senate's representation.

The Speaker of the House has similar appointing authority over the group. The task force was created by law during the 2013 legislative session and is expected to make a report to the presiding officers and recommendations for action during the 2014 and 2015 sessions. The law, including the task force, was enacted because of organized labor initiatives in central and south Florida to encourage county commissions to stipulate benefits for private companies doing business in their counties. 

Mr. Clyne will represent business owners in Florida with more than 50 employees on the task force. He is chief executive officer a large privately held heavy industrial contractor with more than 500 employees. Kimbrough, named last month, represents companies with fewer than 50 employees. Madtes, who lives in Miami, is President of the South Florida Chapter of the AFL-CIO and is Secretary and Treasurer of Unite Here. Senator Bradley, a former county commissioner in Clay County, is managing partner and attorney with Kopelousos and Bradley, PA in Orange Park. 

Clyne, Madtes and Bradley are appointed to the task force beginning immediately and ending June 30, 2014.