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State Republicans eye exceptions to minimum wage hikes

In this April 15, 2015, file photo, protesters march in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Less than three months after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to raise Florida’s minimum wage, a Senate Republican on Wednesday filed a proposal that could lead to exceptions for some workers.

The amendment, approved in the November election, will increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour on Sept. 30 and lead to annual increases until it is $15 an hour on Sept. 30, 2026. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed a proposal Wednesday that, if approved, would allow the Legislature to provide a reduced minimum wage for workers under age 21, for workers convicted of felonies, for state prisoners and for “other hard-to-hire employees.”

The proposal (SJR 854) is filed for consideration during the legislative session that will start March 2. If passed, it would need voter approval in 2022 because it would change the state Constitution.