Judge won’t force Orange sick-time vote
Ballot printing can start
An Orange Circuit judge denied an emergency request Tuesday night to force a sick-time initiative onto the Nov. 6 ballot.
Judge Frederick Lauten held a rare evening hearing to once again consider the case but denied the plea.
“Even if this court concludes that the [county commission] failed to abide by its own charter, an adequate remedy … exists because the court is able to mandate that the matter be placed on the next special, general or primary election ballot,” Lauten’s ruling said.
The legal action had pushed to the absolute limit the deadline for printing the fall ballot.
Election Supervisor Bill Cowles said he had to send ballots to the printers by Tuesday, but would wait to start printing until he heard the court’s decision.
Hours earlier, commissioners declined once more to put the initiative on the ballot.
Two key issues faced Lauten, the presiding jurist of a three-judge panel. Did supporters of the measure have other options if the measure were not on the fall ballot, and would the group face serious harm if the referendum were delayed beyond Nov. 6.
An attorney for the advocates’ group, Citizens for a Greater Orange County, told Lauten that the voters who signed the petition did so with an understanding it would go to a vote Nov. 6.
And while commissioners pledged to put it on a future ballot, they have already violated their own rules, casting doubt on whether they would actually do that, said state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, the group’s attorney.
“The citizens of Orange County expected the charter to be followed,” Randolph said. “That’s the irreparable harm.”
Three lawyers for Orange County government told Lauten that commissioners did not violate their own charter by delaying a decision on the measure.