Miami Dade and Broward counties would have their decades-old living wage ordinances repealed and local governments would be banned from enacting similar employment benefits under a bill passed Wednesday by a House committee.
The measure, HB 655, by Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, not only would preempt the laws in the state’s most populous counties and in cities such as Orlando, Miami Beach and Gainesville, but it would ban Precourt’s home county, Orange, from enacting a living wage proposal set to go before voters in 2014.
“Some counties like Miami-Dade are so large that their ordinances are really distorting the current economy and there is a need for uniformity,’’ Precourt told the House Local and Federal Affairs Committee. He said the laws have suppressed the ability of the state to generate jobs.
But opponents countered that the laws, which have been on the books in some cases for 14 years, have actually stabilized employment and helped businesses.
Living wage laws have “actually increased [business] profits because there is a dramatic increase in profitability and a dramatic decrease in turnover” as workers become more productive, said Rich Templin of the AFL-CIO.
The ordinances require that certain businesses that sign contracts with the county agree to pay their workers a “living wage” indexed to inflation that exceeds the federal and state minimum wage.
Enacted in 1999, the Miami Dade ordinance applies to contracts greater than $100,000 and for services such as food preparation and security, landscaping, parking and clerical work. All companies that contract with Miami-Dade Aviation Department must also offer the wage, regardless of contract value.
This year, the living wage is $12.06 an hour in Miami Dade if the company also offers health insurance and $13.82 an hour without health insurance.