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Minimum Wage Measure Moves Through FL House

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Changes may be coming to the state’s minimum wage law under a measure that narrowly made it way through the House committee Tuesday.

According to the News Service of Florida, HB 1425 was approved the House Finance and Tax Committee by a 13-11 vote. The bill would change the way the state calculates increases in the constitutionally-mandated minimum wage to account for years that the cost of living decreases.

The measure is sponsored by Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne. It would not allow any year’s minimum wage to be less than the previous year, but would require state officials to calculate any future minimum wage hikes to take into consideration the Consumer Price index. This would come into play mostly when they country slips into a recession.

“I’m not here to lower the minimum wage,” Tobia said. “I’m here to put in common sense. There is nothing that is common sense adding to someone’s wage when the CPI is going down.”

Florida is one of seven states with similar laws that keep minimum wage in line with inflation. The to others – Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and
Washington – increased their minimum wage on January 1. Florida did not.

That decision has the state facing a lawsuit. In January, Florida Legal Service filed suit on behalf of 188,000 workers after the minimum was not raised to $7.31 an hour from $7.21 and hour in early 2010.

The state contests that the CPI was reduced during the 2008-09 fiscal year as the reason for the stagnant minimum wage. The state did, however, raise the minimum wage in July 2010 to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. It went unchanged as the New Year rolled in.

Advocates for the workers say the four cent increase was a ploy to get out of paying the 10 cent increase the workers were asking for.

“This is just an attempt to get the state out from under a lawsuit,” said Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee.

A senate version of the proposal (SB 1610) was also discussed Tuesday in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee but no vote was taken. The House version will now go to the floor.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed material for this report)

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