State. Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, has offered up an amendment to exempt Orange County from a bill that would block local governments from adopting mandatory paid sick time benefits for workers.
The so-called pre-emption bill is sponsored by House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, and Saunders' amendment has little chance of being attached to it.
That's because Orange County's controversial handling of a sick time voter referendum last fall is what largely prompted businesses such as Darden Restaurants and Walt Disney World to work on drafting the legislation with Precourt and a similar measure by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.
Orange County officials are now the subject of a state criminal investigation and civil lawsuit related to alleged open government violations that involve many of the same business interests pushing for the current state legislation.
So while Saunders' amendment stands little chance of being included in the bill, his move does draw a bright line around the party divide on this issue. Republicans have strongly pushed for the business-backed paid sick time ban, while the more labor-friendly, but largely powerless Democrats have unsuccessfully tried to block it.
It's not clear when the House will take up the issue again in the waning days of the session, but the Senate passed a different version of the bill last week that departs in a crucial way from the one pushed by Precourt.
The Senate version blocks local governments from adopting paid sick time benefits, while Precourt's bill would also aim to outlaw living wage ordinances now in place that guarantee higher than minimum wage pay for workers on government projects.