Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Scott should stand with workers

If Gov. Rick Scott is positioning himself as pro-family and pro-women by supporting expanded Medicaid and vetoing a bill to eliminate permanent alimony, he should listen to Orlando-area mothers urging him to veto a bill that harms working families. The measure, HB 655, would prevent local governments from requiring local private employers to provide paid sick leave and other job-related benefits. Scott, who has two weeks to act on the bill, could demonstrate his sincerity in helping working families by vetoing it.

The women delivered 11,000 petitions to Scott last week, wheeling them in using two baby strollers and a red wagon, to demonstrate what is at stake. Fifty organizations representing nearly 2 million Floridians also have signed a letter to Scott urging a veto. An estimated 40 percent of private sector workers and 80 percent of low-income workers do not receive earned sick days. Retail clerks, restaurant servers and child care workers without this benefit must come to work sick or leave a sick child at home to avoid losing money and possibly their job. The United States is the only advanced economy that doesn't guarantee paid sick days to private sector workers.

The business community, including Walt Disney Co. and Darden Restaurants, is backing the bill that pre-empts local efforts to require a range of private sector benefits including sick leave, vacation time, health coverage, holidays and retirement benefits. But Scott should consider the flip side: When government sets reasonable minimum conditions for work, everyone benefits, including employees, their children and businesses that want to be fair to workers but would otherwise face competitive pressures.

Scott should also consider that the impetus behind this bill is a cynical effort to thwart the will of voters. House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, sponsored it specifically to scuttle a 2014 court-ordered voter referendum in Orange County that would ask whether many employers should be required to provide earned sick days. The Orange County Commission improperly kept it from the ballot last November after 50,000 local citizens had signed a petition to bring the issue to a vote.

Opponents say that there shouldn't be a patchwork of labor rules in different regions of the state. But at the heart of local control is cities and counties responding to direction from residents. A statewide task force on employer-sponsored benefits would be created by the bill to report back to lawmakers in early 2014. A better approach would be to allow local governments to experiment with more progressive labor policies and measure the economic impact. A study of Connecticut's statewide paid sick leave requirements found that increases in worker productivity outweighed the relatively small cost to business.

Scott has until June 25 to act on the measure. He should reject this effort on the part of powerful special interests to keep voters from having a say on reasonable job benefits. It would send a strong message that the governor cares about local control and the state's working families.

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18