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A Florida Senator is proposing to amend the state constitution to allow the Legislature to exempt convicted felons and those under age 21 from receiving the $15 minimum wage requirements.

Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Rick Elmhorst and Reporter Roy DeJesus look deeper into the proposal and how it would affect these types of workers.

Since its Nov. 2020 approval (60 percent) by Florida voters, the minimum wage hike issue has stoked plenty of opinions from both sides of the political aisles, as well as throughout economic, business and legal circles.

With the new mandate, the current rate of $8.56 will jump to $10 per hour in Sept. 2021. From there, it will increase by $1 each year until reaching $15 in 2026.

But a proposal by State Sen. Jeff Brandes that would amend the constitutional amendment and limit the wage a former felon or younger worker would receive.

Brandes has maintained that his research shows that minimum wage requirements in other states have actually hurt "hard to hire" employees, and that he's jump starting a conversation on implementing a training wage that would allow them to get into the job market, with the ultimate goal of getting them to the minimum wage or higher in the near future.

"We're trying to accomplish helping groups that are disadvantaged by a rising minimum wage," Brandes said. "Because if you have a stack of 10 applications and you have a 16-year-old who has no work experience and a recently incarcerated individual, you're likely to put those at the back of the pile, looking for a more experienced applicant.

"And so we're trying to create an incentive for employers to consider those individuals."

Pinellas County Commissioner René Flowers said the measure is unfair, adding the new minimum wage would ultimately lift more a little more than a million Floridians out of poverty. However, the same report indicated that possibly as many as 1.4 million jobs could eventually be lost.

"Sixty-one percent of registered voters voted to approve increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour," Flowers said. "Once again, we unfortunately have someone in the state legislature who is attempting to thwart what it was that the voters decided."

Brandes' proposed amendment would first have to be approved by a super majority just to make it on a ballot and then would be voted on again, which is unlikely.

Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change, and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.
To The Point Already will cover people, politics, and issues from a Tampa Bay perspective every Wednesday.