Florida voters have delivered a major victory for the workers who carry Central Florida's and Tampa Bay's service-centered economies on their shoulders: approval of a ballot measure that gradually will raise Florida's minimum wage from $8.56 to $15 an hour.
The Associated Press declared passage of Amendment 2 late Tuesday night.
The passage also marks a triumph for the man behind the measure — prominent Orlando lawyer John Morgan. He made a long-standing appeal for passage of Amendment 2, which will increase Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
What You Need To Know
- Amendment 2 will raise Florida's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026
- All state constitutional measures require 60% support for passage
- Floridians also voting on 5 other amendments, including how amendments pass
The amendment required 60% voter approval for passage, and Florida voters nudged it through. With 99.49% of the vote counted late Tuesday night, 60.8% of Florida residents said yes to the amendment.
Morgan’s opponents included influential groups including the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which asserted on its website that passage would have devastated the hospitality industry. Some business owners warned that an increase in the minimum wage would have forced them to cut staff and benefits.
Morgan’s supporters included many of the state’s lowest-paid workers and those who think they deserve a higher minimum wage.
Meanwhile, voters turned back two measures that would have affected Florida’s election system. Both also required 60% voter approval for passage.
With 99.48% of votes counted, 57% of voters said yes to Amendment 3, which would have changed the state primary system so that voters, regardless of party affiliation, could cast ballots in the primaries for candidates of any party. In Florida and most other states, Democrats and Republicans vote separately for their own party candidates, with the winners facing off in the general election.
Also, only 47.5% of voters said yes to Amendment 4, which asked them whether they wanted future ballot amendments to require two voter approvals instead of one.
These three amendments were among six on the Florida ballot.
Amendment 2: Minimum wage
With its passage, Amendment 2 gradually will raise state’s minimum wage from $8.56 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026.
A recent exclusive Spectrum News/Ipsos poll found that 70% of Florida residents said they supported incrementally raising the state’s minimum wage.
Yet some business owners and operators said passage of the amendment could have forced them to lay off workers or to cut benefits. Opponents included Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals, and various chambers of commerce.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association warned that the measure “would have a devastating effect on businesses, decrease job opportunities, and raise prices for consumers.”
The amendment requires employers to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $10 in 2021. Then, the minimum wage will increase by $1 a year until it reaches $15 an hour on September 30, 2026. Starting in September 2027, minimum wage increases will revert to adjustment for inflation, as now.
Amendment 3: Changing state primaries
Amendment 3 would have changed Florida elections. It proposed shifting state primaries to a so-called top-two system in which voters would have chosen from all candidates running for an office, not just those in a voter’s party.
The two candidates with the most votes in the primary would have advanced to the general election — conceivably resulting in general elections that would have featured only the top two Democrats, the top two Republicans, or any combination of two candidates. But this wouldn’t have applied to presidential races.
California and Washington maintain such top-two primary systems.
The state’s Democratic and Republican parties fought the switch, as did the League of Women Voters of Florida, which said it felt the amendment would have disenfranchised people of color.
Amendment supporter All Voters Vote countered that the amendment could have had the opposite effect. The organization emphasized its effort to help elections determine “the true will of the people.”
Amendment 4: Approval of amendments
Like Amendment 3, Amendment 4 would have had a major effect on Florida’s elections process.
Amendment 4 asked Florida voters whether proposed amendments should have been approved not once but in two elections before becoming law. Florida thereby would have joined Nevada as the only states to require ballot initiatives to pass in two elections.
Citing the costs of such ballot initiatives, the League of Women Voters of Florida said it thought the amendment effectively would have killed state citizen initiatives.
The ACLU of Florida agreed, saying it thought the amendment would have undermined “the political power of Floridians.”
Keep Our Constitution Clean PC spearheaded the push for Amendment 4, suggesting that Florida’s constitution has been too easily and too often amended.