Florida lawmaker looks to set lower minimum wage for felons, other ‘hard-to-hire’ employees

Voters would have final say on proposed amendment, if passed

Floridians pass amendment for higher minimum wage

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s minimum wage is set to hit $15 per hour by 2026, but not everyone in the state will see that money if one Republican state senator gets his way.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, filed a proposed amendment to Florida’s constitution on Wednesday.

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The proposal from Brandes, who serves as chair of the Judiciary Committee, calls for the legislature to receive powers allowing it to set a “reduced minimum wage rate” for prisoners in the state correctional system, workers convicted of a felony, workers under 21 and other “hard-to-hire” employees.

The proposal does not define “hard-to-hire” or say what the “reduced minimum wage rate” would be.

The legislature will consider the proposal when it convenes on March 2. If the legislature passes it, then the proposal would appear on the 2022 ballot because it would amend the constitution. At least 60% of voters would have to approve the amendment for it to pass.

This proposal comes more than three months after Floridians passed Amendment 2, which raises the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour in September, then raises it a dollar more each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.

It is not possible, at this time, to know how many Floridians could be affected by this proposal.

Up to 2.5 million workers across the state could see a pay increase as the minimum wage rises to $15 per hour. That’s according to estimates from the Florida Pay Institute, which calls itself “an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to advancing policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.”

There are more than 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions.

According to numbers provided by the Florida Department of Health, there are 794,811 workers between the ages of 16 and 24 and at least 182,254 of those workers are between the ages of 16 and 19.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates produces News 6 at 5:30 and the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.