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Florida Considers Lowering Minimum Wage To $2.13 For Tipped Employees

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File photo of waitstaff at work. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

File photo of waitstaff at work. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A controversial piece of legislation has moved forward that would, if enacted, lower Florida’s state minimum wage to $2.13 for tipped employees.

The language of the Senate Bill 2106 describes it as “[a]n act relating to tipped employees” that intends on “authorizing an employer to elect to guarantee that all tipped employees receive a wage, including tips, equal to a minimum percentage of the state minimum wage.”

Essentially, SB 2106 would allegedly cut minimum wage for tipped workers from $4.65 to $2.13 per hour, while enforcing a stipulation that employees make at least $9.98 per hour when tips are added into their total per-hour earnings.

If approved, the act would reportedly take effect on July 1. And on Thursday, the measure moved one step closer to succeeding when it was approved by the Commerce and Tourism Committee of the state Senate.

According to a fact sheet posted earlier this month by the National Employment Law Project on SB 2106, lowering the Florida state minimum wage would be an unconstitutional action.

“It violates Florida’s minimum wage constitutional amendment, which was enacted with the support of an overwhelming 72% of the state’s electorate in 2004,” the document states.

The Florida State Department of Labor corroborates this fact, stating that voters approved the amendment in 2004. It specifically stipulates that minimum wage was elevated to $6.15 per hour on May 2, 2005.

“In subsequent years, the state’s minimum wage will be adjusted annually to reflect the rate of inflation with the new minimum wage taking effect on January 1 of each year,” the website continues.

Some major players in industries employing minimum wage workers approve of the legislation. Carol Dover, the president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, told CBS Tampa that she supports and approves of the measure.

“The bill will create more opportunity in the restaurant industry while guaranteeing tipped employees a wage that’s 30 percent higher than the state’s current minimum wage,” she said in an emailed statement. “This plan will give Florida the dual advantage of offering the highest state wage guarantee in the country and offering employers more flexibility in how they compensate employees.”

CBS Tampa was informed that the Committee on Regulated Industries is now overseeing the measure. According to their official website, the committee oversees the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Calls made to committee representatives were not immediately returned.

Related story:

Poverty and Florida’s New Minimum  Wage. (cbstampa.com)

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