Orange County voters to vote on sick time measure, but it won't matter

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Supporters have been fighting about it with Orange County for years, and next month, voters finally get to weigh in on whether local companies must pay workers sick time.

The effort is still on the ballot even though it died after a state law was passed to prevent local governments from requiring sick pay for companies.

Before that law was put in place, however, a judge ordered Orange County to let voters weigh in and a lawsuit to take it off the ballot wasn’t resolved in time.

Fifty-thousand Orange County residents backed the effort with their signatures, and every time it was discussed, commission chambers were packed.

But commissioners blocked the fight to require Orange County businesses to pay for employee sick time from the 2012 ballot, and now that it’s finally up for a vote, the results won’t matter.

“If this had been handled properly, Orange County would have earned sick time, because we are very confident it would have been passed in 2012,” said Laura Jones with Organize Now.

State law prevents local governments from requiring sick pay, even though a judge ruled commissioners had no legal right to keep the issue from voters two years ago.

“I think it’s unfortunate that this question is on the ballot because it fools voters into thinking it’s a legitimate question,” said WFTV’s political analyst Dr. Rick Foglesong.

Several commissioners were accused of breaking the law in the “textgate” scandal, after records showed some were texting lobbyists in opposition of the petition before a vote.

“I think it will make the Orange County Commission majority look bad. The people who kept it off the ballot, I think it will make state legislature look bad for preempting local rule,” Foglesong said.