ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A judge sided with Orange County and refused to issue an injunction that would force commissioners to put the controversial paid sick time measure on the November ballot. That measure could have forced private companies to give workers paid sick days.
Just hours after an injunction hearing ended Tuesday night, the judge's ruling came as a major blow to paid sick time supporters.
Supporters of the sick time ordinance demanded a judge issue an emergency injunction ahead of ballot printing Tuesday night. It would have forced Orange County commissioners to put the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"This is why citizens don't like government. This is why citizens don't trust government. Because even when you follow the rules, they try to circumvent the rules," said Scott Randolph, the attorney representing the sick time proponents.
READ: Judge's denial of petitioners' motion
County officials want more time to sort out ballot language and said it's not a matter of "if" it will be on the ballot, but rather when.
“We will proceed as proscribed by the court providing our response within 20 days. Although this means the paid sick leave initiative will not appear on the November ballot, we will move forward with a transparent process to ensure voters have clear and unambiguous ballot language to consider at a future election," said Orange County Attorney Jeffrey Newton in a statement.
In court, proponents had to argue that there would be irreparable injury and inadequate remedy of the law, if it didn't. WFTV's legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said they fell short.
"By Orange County's own admission this ordinance will end up on a ballot, just not this ballot. Therefore, the court found that the petitioners do have an adequate remedy at law," said Sheaffer.
Sick time organizers gathered more than 50,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. On Monday, the courts ruled in favor of the ballot measure, but also gave the county 20 days to respond.
Now proponents will have to wait for an expensive, special election or even two more years before it goes before voters. The county said it plans to hold at least two meetings next month to address the issue again.
On Tuesday, in a show of protest, proponents of the sick time ordinance laid flowers in front of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacob and county commissioners symbolizing what they said is the death of democracy.
"Every time we stand up to speak you will shut us up. We are sick of it," said Sheena Roole, a sick time ordinance supporter.
Supporters of the ordinance accused the commission of being beholden to corporate interests that oppose mandatory sick time.
"Perhaps if I was a part of a big corporation like Walt Disney World or Darden maybe then my voice would be heard," said Holly Fussel.
Jacobs said the reasons for the delay are discrepancies between the ordinance itself and the ballot summary voters will see.
She said under language in the summary regarding sick time to recover from illness or injury, or care for a family member, employees could demand paid time off to take an out-of-state friend to the dentist.
"I think the language is extremely misleading. Having sat and read the ordinance, it's way more than earned sick time," said Jacobs.
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