By Tom Tillison
When it comes to safeguarding free market principles, the wolf is always at the door.
The 2016 presidential election is still a year and a half away, but the battle lines are already being drawn in Florida with a number of statewide ballot initiatives, including two feel-good issues popular in the polls — a minimum wage increase and paid sick leave.
With medical marijuana expected on the ballot again in 2016, it’s debatable whether the forces behind the new initiatives are hoping to drive the vote or take advantage of the increased turnout of Democrat-leaning voters in a presidential election.
Either way, “pure democracy” progressives determined to undermine the free market see the concept of the electorate voting themselves benefits being too tempting to pass on.
Orange County-based activists who were beat back at the local level in 2012 are vying to get paid sick leave on the 2016 ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Led by “Family Always Come First, Inc.,” a political action committee formed by Organize Now, the de facto successor to now-defunct ACORN Florida, the ballot initiative was filed last week with the Florida Division of Elections.
That it was filed the same day as the minimum wage ballot initiative — no less than $10 an hour — makes for an interesting coincidence.
The 2016 Earned Sick Time Amendment ballot summary states:
“Requires that employers with 5 or more employees provide paid sick time and all other employers provide unpaid sick time.”
“Requires” as in mandated. Forced. By law.
A Florida legislative task force determined last year that it’s not government’s role to regulate an area that should be determined within the negotiations of the employer/employee relationship.
But the initiative goes well beyond paying workers when sick and unable to work.
The parameters have been expanded to not only cover illness or injury, but to also include “medical care, care of family member, domestic violence or sexual battery needs, workplace or school closures due to public health emergency or compliance with quarantine.”
If successful, the impact on small businesses could be devastating, with higher prices and layoffs a likely result.
Organize Now, funded in part by labor unions and left-leaning nonprofits based in Washington, is led by state director Stephanie Porta, who has experience with statewide ballot initiatives — she was involved in a successful 2004 minimum wage increase while employed with ACORN Florida.
The driving force behind Orange County’s sick leave initiative, Porta saw more than $100,000 flow into her coffers in support of that effort, with much of the funding coming from the D.C. based Leadership Center for the Common Good, a tax-exempt, union-linked 501(c)(3) that trains community organizers to “rage against capitalism,” according to Capital Research Center.
Organize Now recently advertised for a campaign manager and a Central Florida field director to drive the statewide paid sick leave effort, so it’s clear the money pipeline is in place.
Next step is to acquire the nearly 700,000 valid signatures needed to get an amendment on the ballot — no easy task.