Appellate court rejects effort by Miami Beach to set higher minimum wage

Decision upholds trial court's ruling invalidating law

Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images
Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images (Getty Images)

MIAMI – An appellate court is blocking Miami Beach from increasing its minimum wage.

In an opinion filed Wednesday, the Third District Court of Appeal denied the city from setting a municipal minimum wage that is higher than the statewide minimum wage.

The state of Florida earlier this year joined a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce that challenges the constitutionality of the city's ordinance.

Former Mayor Philip Levine announced in May 2016 that he wanted to incrementally raise the minimum wage in the city. 

Miami Beach later passed an ordinance that would have increased the minimum wage to $10.31 in 2017, with a $1 an hour increase every year until reaching $13.31 by 2020.

A trial court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, but the city appealed.

The city argues that a 2004 constitutional amendment that set a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage "does not affect the Legislature's express constitutional authority to preempt, by law, municipal powers."

However, the appellate judges wrote that the drafters of the amendment "could have employed clear and direct language" allowing municipalities to set their own wages but "chose not to incorporate such language."

"We conclude that the 2004 constitutional amendment did not nullify the state's wage preemption statute, which indeed does prohibit local minimum wage ordinances, such as the one enacted" by Miami Beach in 2016.

The decision upholds the trial court's ruling invalidating the law.