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States across the country have voted to hike their minimum wages to $15 per hour. A prominent lawyer is piling millions of dollars into a push to make Florida the next one.
Frustrated by the state government’s inaction to raise the pay floor, John Morgan has pushed to get a $15 minimum wage measure on Florida’s ballot in 2020. He has already gathered the 766,200 signatures needed to let voters decide whether to raise the wage next year. Now, the Orlando-based personal injury attorney waits on the state Supreme Court to decide if it ends up on the ballot in the battleground state.
Morgan, who alongside his wife, Ultima, runs a firm that employs more than 500 lawyers, has enjoyed ballot success in the past. He piled money into a successful 2016 ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana. He estimates he has already spent $5 million to $7 million on the minimum wage push.
Morgan’s effort to boost wages could have a massive effect in the third-most populous state in the country. The colorful lawyer, who said he would “rather have bamboo shoots stuck up [his] fingertips” than run for political office, considers the pay floor a “moral, ethical and religious issue” rather than a political one.
The 63-year-old said he decided to pursue the minimum wage measure when considering what else made him “hurt” after the marijuana initiative’s passage.
“And what makes me hurt the most is watching other people hurt,” Morgan said in a phone interview. “And I don’t think that politicians really give a f—, really give a f—, about other people hurting. They really just care about their next election.”
Amid growing concerns that working class pay has not kept pace with costs of living, seven states and Washington, D.C., have voted to boost their minimum wages to $15 per hour. The federal pay floor sits at $7.25 an hour — a level from which it has not budged in a decade. The Democratic-held House — including all Democratic representatives from Florida and one Republican from the state — approved a $15 U.S. minimum wage earlier this year, but the GOP-held Senate has not taken up the bill