TALLAHASSEE -- An employment benefits bill inspired by Orange County political fight over sick-leave was sent to Gov. Rick Scott's desk Monday, giving him 15 days to decide its fate.
The bill has drawn an intense lobbying push from Democrats, unions and liberal activists who argue that limiting local governments' ability to adopt tougher requirements for employers to offer paid sick leave to workers is an affront to lower-income and female employees.
The bill -- HB 655, sponsored by House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs -- would render moot a potential 2014 vote in Orange County over whether to require that many businesses offer paid sick-leave to workers.
More than 50,000 Orange County voters tried to place the earned sick-time measure on the ballot last year, but it was scuttled by the county commission. Afterward, a three-judge panel ordered them to put it on the 2014 ballot. But even if the sick-time ordinance passed, the bill would preempt Orange from adopting it.
Legislative supporters this spring argued the Orange fight has inspired them to at least temporarily "preempt" the "patchwork" of local government sick- and medical-leave policies in order to provide "certainty" to businesses.
The bill would require a task force to study the issue and report back next year on whether to allow local governments to adopt their own policy, or to set a uniform statewide policy for employee benefits.
Last week, protesters delivered 11,000 signed petitions asking Scott to veto the bill. Although it passed in May, the Legislature's presiding officers hadn't sent it to the governor until Monday, starting the 15-day clock for him to sign it.