With the clock ticking on Gov. Rick Scott's bill-signing deadline – you guys, he totally carpel-tunneled 36 bills just yesterday and might have lost his hand – a diverse array of powerful women have signed on to a letter sent to the governor today. In that letter, printed below, the group lays out just how offensive House Bill 655 ought to be to just about anyone who thinks about it, and how malignant its passage could be to workers in the state of Florida. The move comes just two days after Democratic National Committee chairwoman (and Congresswoman) Debbie Wasserman Schultz took to the MSNBC airwaves on Chris Hayes' All In to make a similar point (she sent a letter to the governor as well). Will the persuasion of these groundbreaking women – including fucking Gloria Steinem, y'all – be the push that Skeletor needs to make some good out of a really bad year for democracy? Here's hoping. Read the letter:
May 31, 2013The Honorable Rick ScottGovernor, State of FloridaPL-05 The CapitolTallahassee, FL 32399-0001Dear Governor Scott,We, the undersigned individuals, call upon you to veto HB 655. This legislation would violate home rule in our State’s Constitution and specifically prohibit political subdivisions from enacting ordinances or citizen led referendums regarding employment benefits such as Earned Sick Time. HB 655 is particularly troubling because Orange County citizens are prepared to vote on a referendum that has been placed by court order on the August 2014 ballot. Voters in Orange County should have voted on this measure in November of 2012 but the Orange County Commission violated their charter and failed to place the referendum on the ballot.The consequences of the failure to provide Earned Sick Time do not fall equally on those in the workforce. This problem primarily impacts working women. It is more often women who have the responsibility for caring for a sick child or other family member. And women should not be forced to go without pay – or be forced to surrender their job – simply because they need to leave work to care for a sick child or family member.Local ControlIn a recent Sun Sentinel Editorial [“Let us Decide for Ourselves” April 30, 2013 Sun-Sentinel] you were asked about your philosophy on the role of state versus local government. You were quoted as saying, "I think as much as possible, you ought to push the decision down to the local level, as much as you can, just like I don't like the federal government to do a lot of mandates." Specifically regarding this legislation you stated, "I think you have to look at every issue separately, but my general rule, like with my mom, I didn't like her telling me what to do. I wanted to go out and make my own mistakes. Then I got to address my own mistakes. So that would be my general philosophy."Governor, it is critical that local communities maintain the control to enact policies that will improve the lives of their residents. If HB 655 were to become law more than 50,000 people who signed petitions to place a local referendum regarding Earned Sick Time on the ballot, and more than 700,000 registered Orange County voters will be retroactively disenfranchised because their vote on the pending referendum will not count.Legislative ProcessThere were numerous attempts to amend HB 655 during the 2013 session. First, to allow for a one year moratorium instead of complete preemption while the Task Force created in this bill conducts its business to study the effects of sick time policies on businesses. The second attempt was to allow for any pending referendums currently on the ballot to be carved out of the law so that voters would not be disenfranchised. That amendment also failed.Our legislature failed to expand access to health care during the 2013 session so that more than one million more Floridians could have access to quality, affordable health care. Now, the Florida Legislature has moved to ensure that those individuals who are sick, or who need to care for a sick child, sick parent, sick spouse, or domestic partner could also lose their job.Public OpinionA recent PPP Poll found that 80% support Earned Sick Time (65% strongly support). A full 60% support the right of local governments and voters to make their own laws (41% strongly support), while 51% do not trust the Florida Legislature to make the right decisions for local communities and middle class families. Of women who were surveyed, 86% support Earned Sick Time (73% strongly support).Denying local communities of the control to deal with this issue, while the legislature fails to enact a statewide policy is the wrong direction for this state and we urge you to veto HB 655.Sincerely,
Pat Schroeder, Celebration, FL - The first woman elected to Congress from Colorado who helped pass the Family Medical Leave ActNancy Argenziano, Dunnellon, F
L- Former Public Service Commissioner and Florida state senator
Linda Chapin, Orlando, FL- First Woman Orange County MayorEthel Kennedy, South Florida-- Wife of Robert Kennedy
Gloria Steinem, New York- Feminist activist since the late 1960s; co-founder of Ms. Magazine, co-founded the Women's Media Center and has received numerous journalism and literary awards for her outstanding writing.
Linda Saul-Sena, Tampa - Community advocate and a former Tampa City councilwomanLisa Versaci, Miami - Co-founder of Emergent OrderNan Rich, Weston, FL - Former Florida state senator and Senate Democratic Leader, President of the National NCJW from 1996-1999 and served on the Children and Youth Cabinet in Florida.
Daniella Levine, Miami - Founder of the Human Services Coalition of Dade County (now renamed Catalyst Miami)Michelle Dunaj Lucking, Miami - Chair the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women
Donna Slutiak, Ocklawaha, FL- President of the Florida National Organization for Women, Inc.Nadine Smith, St. Pete - Executive Director of Equality FloridaStephanie Porta, Orlando - Executive Director of Organize Now