A couple of state legislators are trying to kill an Orange County ballot measure that would require businesses with 15 or more employees to grant paid sick time to full- and part-time workers.
State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and State Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, have both promised to look at ways to keep the ballot initiative from ever getting to the voters.
Lew Oliver, chairman of Orange County's GOP, said he led the fight to get rid of the sick time initiative, and legislators are doing the right thing to prevent a vote.
"It never occurred to me, and it never occurred to most people that I spoke to, that it would even be possible to by local ballot initiative to change the rules and regulations between and contracts between employers and employees," Oliver said.
Orange County would be at a major disadvantage in the competition for jobs if it had different rules than the rest of the state, according to Oliver.
He thinks if one referendum is passed that mandates how employers do business, more will be on the way.
"For somebody who doesn't get sick leave, this is an extra $500-$600 per employee, even at minimum wage.
"So what's the next step? Guaranteed education? Guaranteed child care? Guaranteed paid vacation? And how much paid vacation? Two weeks? That's not enough? OK go back to the electorate, get three. Oh that's not going to be good? Four, five, six, eight, 10 -- what ever the number happens to be?"
So far, neither Precourt nor Simmons has filed a bill to create a statewide standard for how employees and employers deal with each other, but one is expected before the session in March.
The group Organize Now helped gather more than 50,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot last November.
Maria McCluskey of Organize Now said she expected a political move such as this.
"I wish I could say we were surprised by it, but after the latest wave of text releases, it's obvious that the commission's strategy all along was to delay and run out the clock on Orange County voters," McCluskey said, referring to text messages between county commissioners and lobbyists on the day of the vote.
"It's the height of cynicism," she said.
Organize Now promised a continued fight for employee sick time and to get all text records on any texting that Orange County Commissioners did on the day they delayed the ballot measure to 2014.