The Phoenix Flyer

Florida Supreme Court to take key case: Can a local government raise its minimum wage?

By: - August 29, 2018 11:05 am

The Florida Supreme Court voted 4-3 on Wednesday to hear an appeal by Miami Beach about whether the city can raise its minimum wage to $13.31 by 2021.

The Miami Beach City Commission unanimously passed an ordinance in June of 2016 setting a new city-wide minimum wage at $10.31 – to go into effect on January 1, 2018. The ordinance mandated that the wage increase by a dollar every year until 2021.

In setting the higher minimum wage, Miami Beach cited evidence and testimony that city workers could not make ends meet on what was then the state’s $8.10 minimum wage, which calculated out to $16,200 a year – not enough to get by in one of Florida’s most expensive cities. It now is at set at $8.25.

A group of business interests led by the powerful Florida Retail Federation opposed the measure, arguing that a state law preempted Miami Beach’s local law. Florida’s Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi joined in on the suit to keep Miami Beach from raising its minimum wage for workers.

In March of 2017, a Miami-Dade County judge sided with the business groups, ruling the city’s ordinance invalid and citing the 2003 state law that prohibits local municipalities from setting their own minimum wages.

Attorneys for Miami Beach then appealed the case to the Third District Court of Appeal, but lost that fight in December 2017.

Now, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to revisit the issue – and the case could reverberate throughout the state.

The push to defy the state and raise Miami Beach’s minimum wage was led by now former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who frequently brought up the issue during his run for the Democratic nomination for governor. That bid ended last night when he finished third in the race.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.