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National Restaurant Association - Paid-sick-leave mandate unlikely on Orange County (Fla.) ballot

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Paid-sick-leave mandate unlikely on Orange County (Fla.) ballot

It appears that Orange County, Fla., voters will not vote on a paid-sick-leave mandate in November.

After much back-and-forth, a judge Sept. 18 denied a motion by paid-leave activists to force county commissioners to add the paid-leave question to the county's Nov. 6 ballot.

The coalition sought voter approval for a ballot measure to require Orange County employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year for employees.

In a statement yesterday, Orange County attorney Jeffrey Newton told an local news station that commissioners will take the full 20 days a court gave them on Monday to respond to a lawsuit by paid-leave supporters. Since some ballots were being printed starting yesterday, that means the county effectively ran out of time to place the question on the November ballot.

"Although this means the paid sick leave initiative will not appear on the November ballot, we will move forward with a transparent process to ensure voters have a clear and unambiguous ballot language to consider in a future election," Newton said.

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association President & CEO Carol Dover was among business group leaders who testified Sept. 11 before the Orange County Commission on the paid-sick-leave effort. She urged the commission to keep the measure off the ballot.

Dover noted that the hospitality industry is Florida's largest employer, employing nearly 1 million employees -- about 22 percent of them in Orange County. "The paid sick leave measure would carve out a major group of employees to be treated differently than those in 66 other counties," Dover said. "The [Orange County proposal] would make operating a business in multiple counties a compliance nightmare."

She noted that the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association has spent decades ensuring that the industry is regulated at the state level, to promote uniformity and consistency and avoid being known as a state where businesses face a competitive disadvantage if they operate in a certain city or county.

Commissioners decided at the end of the Sept. 11 meeting that the ballot question's wording was confusing and needed further study. They will discuss the issue during several meetings in October, county leaders said.


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