President Obama recently made Earned Sick Time an essential part of his domestic agenda. We’ve spoken time and again on this site about how the President’s unwillingness to embrace progressive policies in the last two years led directly to the Democrats election debacle in 2014 and the defeat of Charlie Crist here in Florida. Not so coincidentally, the President enjoys his highest approval rating in two years thanks to his strong statements on a number of issues since the carnage of November 4th. A poll conducted by The Florida Institute of Reform and Empowerment (F.I.R.E) found that close to 50% of workers in the state between the age of 18-65 do not have access to sick days.
Orange County voters overwhelmingly passed sick days with over 63% of the vote in August 2014. This came after an unprecedented citizen initiative placed the question on the ballot. But bowing to political ideology as often happens in this state, the Orange County Commission and County Mayor have ignored the will of the voters. At the state level, policy makers have concocted various ways to prevent local governments from passing ordinances or legislation that benefits citizens and hurts special interests. This move began in 1999 when conservatives gained complete control of state government. That year, the legislature attempted to stop Miami-Dade County led by Mayor Alex Penelas from suing gun manufacturers. Fortunately for the citizens of Dade County, the bill had to be pulled from the House floor thanks to the Colombine Massacre which had taken places hours before second reading.
Over the course of the last sixteen years various measures including HB 655 in 2013 which dealt with this specific issue have been pushed by the legislature and elected officials at the state level. The legislature have in time, also become experts at passing on unfunded mandates to local governments while the House and Senate attempt to thwart the will of the voters in Florida’s urban areas with various measures that protect special interests from local ordinances and initiatives .
“It’s time we tell politicians to pick a side: side with women and support Earned Sick Days or side with the corporate interests that fight family-friendly policies at every turn,” said Stephanie Porta, executive director of F.I.R.E.
The United States is the only developed western nation that doesn’t mandate Earned Sick Time. On the contrary, many of our elected leaders want to make it impossible for the hard working citizens of this state who keep our economy going to take care of their families. So much for a family friendly Florida.