TALLAHASSEE - Florida Gov. Rick Scott didn't waste much time in signing a bill Friday that would block local governments from enacting mandatory paid sick time measures, such as the one pending in Orange County.
The Republican governor sided with Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a broad array of powerful business interests who argued the ban was needed to avoid a patchwork of local employment rules for companies.
And supporters and critics aren't mincing words in the reactions pouring into the inboxes.
"The fact that Rick Scott signed this anti-middle class, anti-family bill into law, then jumped on a plane to France, proves that the governor of Florida does not care about working middle class families and he knows how unpopular and damaging this bill is," said Amy Ritter with Florida Watch Action, an Orlando liberal group that worked on the campaign petitioning Scott to veto HB 655.
From the business perspective, the reviews were rosier -- and labeled the sick-leave effort a "union mandate."
"Protecting small businesses and jobs from union mandates that drive up costs makes Florida more competitive," said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. "This law ensures mandatory leave is decided at the state level and preempts union-backed efforts to have local and county governments adopt policies governing terms of employment and other wage related issues."
"All Floridians need to be grateful to Gov. Scott for standing up to sweet-sounding promises of ‘free benefits’ and union demagoguery that would be the siren call for Florida's economy, crashing us into another recession. On behalf of Florida’s business community, we thank the Governor for signing this job-saving legislation," he said in a statement.
"Our industry has consistently fought for uniformity and fairness across the state, whether it relates to inspections, licensing fees, or training requirements," said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. "Florida businesses cannot survive with competing regulations on a county by county basis and this legislation now allows for a level playing field for job creation and expansion."
And if the press releases from the business lobby didn't make it clear enough, critics tried to tie Scott to the corporations that helped lobby for the bill.
"Today, Gov. Scott sided with corporations like Disney and Darden over Florida families," said Stephanie Porta, a leader in the initiative fight to get Earned Sick Time on the ballot in Orange County. "But the fight for Earned Sick Time will continue. Floridians believe in earned sick time for hardworking families and we don’t give up when we believe in something."