In 2016, a year that saw a wave of ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage in various states and localities, the city of Miami Beach, Florida, passed an ordinance to raise the local pay floor to $10.31 per hour at the start of this year and gradually raise it further to $13.31 by 2021—well above Florida’s state minimum wage, which currently stands at $8.10. Local political leaders said at the time that the higher pay floor was meant to help workers cope with the high cost of living in the city, among the highest in the state.
The Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and Florida Chamber of Commerce sued the city in December 2016 to prevent the law from going into effect, arguing that it was preempted by state law. Last March, a state circuit court ruled against the city, which appealed to a higher district court.
In December, that court upheld the judgment against Miami Beach, finding that a state law enacted in 2003 preventing local governments from establishing a higher minimum wage than the state or federal standard was still in force despite a later decision by voters in the state to raise the minimum wage statewide. Sarah Smith Kuehnel, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in St. Louis, went over the court’s reasoning when that ruling was handed down last month:
In 2004, Florida voters passed a citizens’ initiative to amend the Florida Constitution, establishing a higher, statewide minimum wage. The amendment expressly allowed “the state legislature [and] any other public body,” to increase the minimum hourly rate above the federal standard, but it left subsection two of section 218.077 intact, without addressing whether local governments can establish their own wage floors. …