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Florida County Blocks Sick Leave Ballot Measure

A three-judge panel in Orange County, Fla., yesterday ruled a paid sick leave initiative that garnered more than 50,000 signatures should be on the November ballot. But today is the deadline for printing ballots and the county’s mayor and the County Commission refused to put the measure before the voters.

While the judges said the sick leave backers had shown the initiative should be on the ballot, the panel also gave the county 20 days to respond and Mayor Teresa Jacob ordered the county attorney to draw up the response, thus missing the printing deadline.   

Marlon Washington, chairman of the group Citizens for a Greater Orange County, part of the paid sick leave coalition, says:

The hardworking families in Orange County expect more from their elected representatives. They expect basic fairness and a respect for the rule of law and our democratic process.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that at today’s County Commission meeting, dozens of sick leave supporters were dressed in black and left flowers in front of Jacob’s desk during a public comment period in the middle of the morning meeting, saying they represented "the death of democracy."

Holly Fussell, 19, told the paper that if she were a lobbyist for Walt Disney World or Darden Restaurants—two of the many business groups opposing the paid sick leave proposal, the mayor and commission would listen to her concerns, but as an ordinary citizen, she’s ignored.  

I don't see a board of commissioners; I see a board of special interest groups.

Orange County’s paid sick leave effort would require any employer with more than 15 workers to provide one hour of sick time for every 37 hours worked, maxing out at 56 hours of sick leave a year. A worker could use that leave to take off when sick or to take time to care for a sick family member. Such policies are beneficial to businesses, because employees don’t come in sick to infect other workers.   

Find out more about paid sick leave from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

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