Influential Florida lobbying group calls proposed $15 minimum wage ‘a disastrous idea after COVID’

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An influential Tallahassee lobbying group Thursday took aim at a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would raise Florida’s minimum wage.

With the backing of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, small-business owners launched the “Amendment 2 Hurts You” campaign, saying the proposal to raise the minimum wage would kill jobs, reduce workers’ hours and destroy Florida’s already coronavirus-fractured economy.

“We are going to see more and more closures across the state, unfortunately, due to COVID,” said Carol Dover, president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “However, this was a bad idea before COVID. It’s a disastrous idea after COVID.”

Chip Evans, owner of Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q and Tally Fish House & Oyster Bar in Tallahassee, told The News Service of Florida that COVID-19 has created a “chaotic time” and that the proposed constitutional amendment would result in business owners being forced to pay employees more than the market allows. The proposal will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2.

“If this business collapses, then everybody loses,” Evans said. “If we are forced to endure a $15-an-hour minimum wage, that may put our business in a position where it could collapse.”

If the proposal is approved by voters, the state’s minimum wage —- currently $8.56 an hour —- would go to $10 on Sept. 30, 2021, and incrementally increase to $15 on Sept. 30, 2026.

Prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan has spearheaded the initiative. The Morgan Firm P.A. and Morgan and Morgan P.A. have contributed heavily to the political committee Florida For A Fair Wage, which is chaired by Morgan.

Florida For A Fair Wage argues the increase is about providing a “living wage,” which “is the minimum cost that covers the basic needs of an individual and the needs of their family without government assistance.”

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