Lobbyists Winning Tipped Minimum Wage War, Court Challenge Likely
This past week the Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee passed SB 2106 that would permit employers to pay tipped workers a new lower minimum wage rate of $2.13 per hour, the federal tipped minimum wage, versus the current minimum tipped wage of $4.65 per hour as required by the State of Florida.
The bill was proposed at the behest of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) with support from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida. The FRLA has been waging a letter-writing campaign lobbying representatives and senators to support the measure, as well as bringing members to testify before the committee.
In 2004, a 72% majority of Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment which established a tipped minimum wage, provided for automatic cost of living increases annually, and expressly forbids the legislature from weakening the minimum wage. (Florida Constitution Article X Sec 24).
Thus, if SB 2106 passes, it will likely face an immediate court challenge.
The FLRA is claiming that Florida’s higher than federal minimum wage is putting restaurants out of business or causing multi-unit operators to open new units in states other than Florida.
Yet, Florida is the third-fastest growing state for restaurant jobs and the third-fastest growing state for restaurant sales, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Earlier this month, the NRA also noted that “in the states, the restaurant industries in Texas and Florida will show the strongest job growth over the next 10 years at roughly 17%.”
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