BY BUDDY NEVINS
One problem with the capital being in Tallahassee 450 miles away is that legislators sometime vote against our interests and nobody seems to notice.
Well, I’m paying attention State Rep. George Moraitis, R- Fort Lauderdale.
George Moraitis: Voting against the county’s wishes
Moraitis voted in favor of a bill on Wednesday that would repeal Broward’s Living Wage Ordinance.
Companies having contracts greater than $100,000 with Broward County currently must pay employees a living wage – currently $12.57 without health insurance.
The bill Moraitis supported would ban such local initiatives, including a similar one in Miami-Dade County.
Moraitis was one of 10 Local & Federal Affairs Committee members who supported the measure. Seven members voted against it.
“No surprise. He’s a Republican,” said County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, who sponsored living wage a decade ago. “…It’s a home rule issue.”
The county’s lobbyists are fighting Moraitis and his GOP cronies in Tallahassee.
These are the same Republicans who call themselves “the champions of home rule.” These folks preach that government closest to the people should decide everything, i.e., local government.
I guess they are for home rule unless it gets in the way of some GOP special interest.
Like the GOP vote years ago to take away local gun control. And now Broward’s living wage ordinance is in their crosshairs.
Apparently telling a business that wants county contracts to pay employees more than starvation wages is wrong.
Supporters of the bill have a different spin, of course.
State Rep. Steve Precourt of Orlando, the bill’s Republican sponsor, was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times as saying allowing local governments to pass living wage laws are “really distorting the current economy and there is a need for uniformity.”
What are living wages in Broward? Just how much money are we talking about?
Not Rockefeller money. Not even Moraitis money, a lawyer whose joint gross income with his wife Heather Moraitis was $260,802 in 2011, according to his income tax statement on file in Tallahassee.
Broward’s living wage amounts to a little over $500-a-week, or roughly $26,100-a-year.
Pols like Moraitis should be forced to spend a day with people who depend on a living wage. It might give Moraitis and his well-to-do pals a better understanding of what it is like to struggle just to put food on your table or a roof over your head.
Broward’s experience with living wages has been positive. Giving workers a living wage has not affected firms one iota. The same companies still scramble for county contracts.
“We have more than a decade to show this living wage didn’t cause the sky to fall,” Jacobs said. “Our local businesses say it strengthens the economic environment…This helps the economic health of the county.”
Luckily this bill (HR 655) has a long way to go before it passes the full House and the Senate.
Before it does, somebody needs to remind Moraitis of the GOP precept: Local governments should decide local issues.
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