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In Miami Beach minimum wage fight, Philip Levine tells Rick Scott ‘I’ll see you court’

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Gov. Rick Scott and the state of Florida are joining a lawsuit against Miami Beach over an attempt by the city to ultimately raise its minimum wage to $13.31 an hour.

After Miami Beach approved a measure last year raising its minimum wage ordinance, Mayor Philip Levine predicted the state would challenge the proposal in court. Levine said the ordinance violates a state law signed by Scott that forbids such measures.

On Wednesday, the state did just that, signing on to a suit filed in December by three of the state’s largest trade groups challenging Miami Beach on the ordinance.

“It’s truly unnerving that the state of Florida, under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott has joined the special-interest-backed lawsuit against the residents of Miami Beach who feel the pressure of wage stagnation,” Levine said Thursday. “We know that wages have not kept up with the cost of living, which is felt more acutely in South Florida communities like Miami Beach.

“Our residents and workers are counting on their leaders to stand up for them after seeing Tallahassee continuously roadblock progress.”

Levine, a Democrat considering a run for Governor, first proposed increasing his city’s living wage in May 2016; city commissioners approved the measure a few months later.

Scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018, the proposal would gradually increase the living wage from $10.31, increasing over four years to $13.31.

The new minimum wage will apply to all workers employed in the City of Miami Beach, as well as those covered by the federal minimum wage.

The Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit in December challenging the ordinance. They claim it’s a direct violation of a 2013 law signed by the Governor forbidding municipalities from assigning their own minimum wage.

But attorneys for Miami Beach argue the state law is unconstitutional since voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that allows local governments to set higher minimum wage.

Originally pegged at $6.15 an hour, it’s now $8.10 an hour.

“If the state challenges us, the courts will have to decide,” he told FloridaPolitics.com last year.

As to what Levine is saying to the Governor today?

“So, to the state, I say, see you in court.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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