DeSantis signs law to ban local governments from setting worker heat exposure, wage requirements

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Thursday that prevents local governments from enforcing protections on issues such as heat protections for workers, and wage requirements for contractors.


In a news release from DeSantis’ office Thursday night, the bill (HB 433) was highlighted alongside nine other measures passed during this legislative session, despite a Democrat-led veto.

Under the new law, Florida cities and counties cannot mandate employers to offer water, rest, or shade to their outdoor employees on hot days.

The bill has sparked intense debate since its inception.

Bill Herrle, Florida director of the National Federation of Independent Business, praised the bill in a Thursday night statement, saying, “Small business owners don’t have the time or the resources to navigate a confusing and contradictory array of local ordinances that go beyond (what) the state already mandates.”

However, opposition to the bill has been fierce, with over 90 organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, and the NAACP Florida State Conference, urging Gov. DeSantis to veto the measure.

Critics argue that removing local governments’ power to protect workers from extreme heat is inhumane and could have substantial financial consequences.

“Floridians feel it getting hotter and understand how difficult and dangerous it is to labor in the sun and heat,” opponents stated in an April 2 letter. “Preempting local governments’ ability to protect workers from climate-caused extreme heat is inhumane and will have enormous negative economic impacts when lost productivity is taken into account... What is business afraid of if they are already doing the right thing? We know of hundreds, if not thousands, of stories of workers who do not receive those protections in the workplace

The Miami-Dade County Commission pushed measures to protect workers from heat-related hazards, prompting the bill’s provisions on heat restrictions.

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Additionally, the bill bans local governments from requiring contractors to offer anything above the statewide minimum wage, a move opponents argue could lead to pay cuts for workers in certain areas.

The current minimum wage in the state is $12 per hour, and it will increase to $13 per hour on September 30. As per the 2020 constitutional amendment, the minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour by 2026 and will be adjusted annually for inflation from 2027 onwards.

Despite opposition, House sponsor Tiffany Esposito, R-Fort Myers, defended the bill, emphasizing its potential to save tax dollars and asserting that businesses should have the autonomy to determine wages.

“Employers have a vested interest in taking care of their employees, and we see that through the actions that they take,” Esposito said.

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William Clayton

William Clayton, Action News Jax

Digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax

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