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Florida Legislators' Show Of Force On The Minimum Wage

FL State Senator Dwight Bullard

As part of the National Week of Action For Real Prosperity Across America and his ongoing work on behalf of Florida's working families, State Senator Dwight Bullard isn't just taking the Minimum Wage Challenge himself. He has recruited seven of his colleagues in the Florida Legislature to join him, including State Reps. Cynthia Stafford, Jose Javier Rodriguez, and Victor Torres. Reps. Kionne McGhee, Shevrin Jones, Bobby Powell, Clovis Watson, and Ricardo Rangel rounds out the rest of the list. 

FL State Rep.Cynthia Stafford
FL Rep. Cynthia Stafford

FL State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez
FL Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez

FL State Rep Victor Torres
FL Rep. Victor Torres

With opponents in the Florida legislature stalling any action on raising the state's minimum wage, the legislators are challenging them to walk a mile in the shoes of their constituents -- the minimum wage earners they refuse to help. Here's a round-up of the local press coverage:

From the Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen:

Getting by on minimum wage
Senator takes pay cut to live on $8 per hour for 7 days

The question of what to have for dinner is a lot more complicated this week for state Sen. Dwight Bullard as he is living on minimum wage for seven days. Bullard, D-South Florida, started the challenge Monday to bring attention to both federal and state legislation to raise the minimum wage.

Bullard sponsored a bill to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.93 an hour to $10.10 an hour, which is the same rate the U.S. Senate is considering. Bullard's bill, S.B. 456, also contains language to make sure workers who rely on tips earn a salary that is at least equivalent to $10.10 an hour.

Bullard has partnered on the project with Americans United For Change and the Progressive States Network.

"It's an eye-opening experience and helps them (legislators) better understand people living on minimum wage," said Lauren Weiner, a spokeswoman with Americans United For Change."You have people working full time, but are still in the food stamp program."

From WFSU-TV and Radio:

Lawmakers Shop For Groceries On Minimum-Wage Budget

Bills raising Florida’s minimum wage were assigned to committees but never heard after South Florida Democrats filed them this session. But that didn’t stop several lawmakers from trying to highlight how hard it is to shop on a tight budget by making a grocery run in Tallahassee this morning.

   (Left to right) Sen. Dwight Bullard, fast food worker Oscar Rivera, Rep. Kionne McGhee and Rep. Clovis Watson show what grocieries bought for under $45. Credit: Jessica Palombo / WFSU News   

(Left to right) Sen. Dwight Bullard, fast food worker Oscar Rivera, Rep. Kionne McGhee and Rep. Clovis Watson show what grocieries bought for under $45.
Credit: Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Local Lawmaker Pushing For Minimum Wage Increase In Florida
 
A local lawmaker has been working with a national campaign to raise the minimum wage in Florida.
 
Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard, who represents a district stretching across Collier, Miami-Dade and Hendry Counties, is spearheading an effort in Florida that would raise the minimum wage.
 
Bullard introduced a bill for this ongoing legislative session that would raise the minimum wage in Florida to $10.10 cents an hour. That would be up from $7.93.
 
However, the bill has not had momentum in the GOP-led Legislature.
 
Bullard, who spoke during a national press conference call about the minimum wage, said even though his fellow lawmakers aren't receptive, many Floridians support a higher minimum wage.
 
“We see story after story of the need to put more money in the pockets of Americans, resonating not only nationally but definitely statewide here in the state of Florida,” he said.
 
Bullard said he's going to be living on minimum wage this week and will document it on social media in an effort to raise awareness. About eight other Democratic members of the Florida House will be joining him.

From News4Jax.com:

Lawmakers attempt living on minimum wage
 
Florida's minimum wage sits at $7.93 but Democrats are pushing for just over $10 and some members of the legislature are going to extremes to prove their point.
 
[....]
 
Call it the legislative version of supermarket sweep. A handful of Democratic lawmakers scaled back their paychecks and tried to shop and live on a minimum wage budget.

 

"In a given week, someone is looking at $317 before taxes. And that's in a 40-hour work-week," said Sen. Dwight Bullard.
Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage?
 
[....]
 
Oscar Rivera makes minimum wage working part time for a Wendy's in Miami. He’s trying to support his family in South Florida and in Nicaragua. "The money that I make is not enough"
 
Many of the minimum wage shoppers stuck to chicken, eggs, and produce. Rep. Clovis Watson of Gainesville says they tried to keep their bill around 40 dollars. "I normally get Del Monte steaks I couldn't get that today"
 
An estimated 400 thousand Floridians would benefit from a pay boost. Raising the minimum wage might sound good to shoppers on a budget but convincing the Governor has been a tough sell.
 
Governor Rick Scott said in January the idea made him cringe.