In signing the bill, Scott sided with big business interests including Disney World, Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The bill is part of a national effort to pass so-called “preemption bills” that would block paid sick leave legislation that is backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group that coordinates conservative laws across states. The state’s House Majority Leader, Steve Precourt (R), who was instrumental in putting forward the preemption bill, is an active ALEC member.
The bill has made moot a 2014 referendum in Orange County that would have decided whether to require paid sick leave. More than 50,000 voters had tried to get the measure on the November 6 ballot but the County Commission voted it off. It made it on the ballot in 2014 thanks to a three-judge panel.
Florida follows a rash of preemption bills in the states, which cropped up in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Mississippi. These bills are part of ALEC’s efforts to weaken wage and labor standards: Since 2011, 67 such ALEC-affiliated bills have been introduced in state legislatures, 11 of which had been signed into law before Scott signed this bill.
Big business stood in opposition to the Orange County effort on paid sick leave because it claimed such a bill would drive up costs. Yet a study of San Francisco, which enacted a paid sick leave policy in 2007, showed that a majority of businesses saw either no impact or a positive one on profitability. Other research has shown such policies to be good for business and job growth.