Florida joins in lawsuit challenging Miami Beach minimum wage increase

Lawsuit claims city ordinance violates state constitution

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The state of Florida is joining a lawsuit seeking to block Miami Beach from increasing its minimum wage.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce in challenging the city's ordinance, which the plaintiffs argue violate the state's constitution.

Mayor Philip Levine announced last May that he was introducing legislation to establish a citywide minimum living wage. The city passed the ordinance a month later.

In doing so, Miami Beach became the first city in Florida to establish a minimum wage.

However, the state of Florida is arguing that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

"In this case, Miami Beach concluded that local conditions justify a higher minimum wage," the lawsuit said. "The Legislature, however, has concluded that allowing higher minimum wages 'would disrupt Florida's economy and threaten the public welfare,' and prohibited local governments from requiring any minimum wage other than federal or state ones."

Under the ordinance, the minimum wage in Miami Beach would increase gradually over a four-year period. The current minimum wage in the state is $8.05 an hour. Miami Beach's ordinance increases minimum wage to $10.31 in 2017, with a $1 an hour increase every year until reaching $13.31 by 2020.

"It's truly unnerving that the state of Florida, under the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott, has joined the special interests-backed lawsuit against the residents of Miami Beach who feel the pressure of wage stagnation," Mayor Philip Levine said in a statement. "We know that wages have not kept up with the cost of living, which is felt more acutely in South Florida communities like Miami Beach. Our residents and workers are counting on their leaders to stand up for them after seeing Tallahassee continuously roadblock progress. So to the state, I say, see you in court."

Levine said last month that he won't seek a third term as mayor in 2018.

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