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Via strollers and a red wagon, 11,000 petitions arrive at Scott’s office

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Pushing a pair of strollers and pulling a red wagon, Central Florida women delivered 11,000 petition signatures Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott, calling on him to veto legislation that would block local governments from adopting mandatory sick time benefits for workers in the community.

Organize Now, and the National Council of La Raza collected the petition names delivered Tuesday. The groups are fighting HB 655, sought by Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants and state business associations, which would stop governments from requiring companies to provide sick time to employees.

Working women say the measure affects them most, since they are frequently forced to take time off to care for sick children or other family members. The measure hasn’t been sent to Scott yet by legislative leaders. The governor hasn’t said what he thinks of the proposal.

“There are plenty of existing laws that are different, city-by-city, county-by-county…and large corporations are able to deal with that every day with no problem,” said Stephanie Porta, with Organize Now. “We think the patchwork quilt argument is one that is made up to argue against this.”

Organize Now led the effort to put an earned sick time measure on the ballot in Orange County. In turn, the prospect of voters supporting the requirement led businesses to fight back — with legislation that bars such measures from taking place in any Florida county or city.

“When my kids get sick, the last thing I should have to worry about is losing my day’s wages or worse — getting fired — when I stay home to take care of them,” said Denise Diaz, a mother of two, who lives in Orlando, and pushed a stroller loaded with petitions to Scott’s office.

Another elections challenge in Florida

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by Dara Kam

State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, a pair of voting-rights organizations have filed yet another challenge to Florida’s election law.

Joyner, the ACLU and the National Council of La Raza are accusing the state of essentially creating two voting systems in Florida, a violation of federal voting laws that require “uniformity.”

The challenge, filed in the Division of Administrative Hearings today, deals with the Gov. Rick Scott administration’s decision to allow portions of the new law to go into effect everywhere in the state except five counties that require federal “preclearance” before election law changes can go into effect.

Section 5 of the National Voting Rights Act require federal oversight for elections in Hendry, Collier, Hardee, Hillsborough and Monroe – with a history of racial or language discrimination against voters. The federal law covers the Florida counties as well as six other southern states – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia – Alaska, and counties in North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, and Idaho.

The U.S. Department of Justice, the ACLU, La Raza and other civil and voting rights groups are fighting Florida over the four most controversial portions of the election law in federal court in Washington.

Those portions include a reduction of the number of days for early voting and restrictions on when voters can change their addresses at the polling place. A federal judge in Tallahassee struck down two other portions of the law dealing with third party voter registration groups, but those remain at issue in the Washington case.

“These are not trivial changes of laws or practices that might be applied differently to allow for local idiosyncrasies; they bear directly on rights that are central to the electoral process,” the complaint reads. “The establishment of this dual regulatory system by the Secretary is the antithesis of uniformity.”

The new law does away with early voting the Sunday before the general election. But civil rights groups argue that’s the day that many black voters participated in “Souls to the Polls” when church-goers cast their ballots after attending services.

Critics of the new law say it is aimed at keeping minorities, low-income and college students – who helped boost President Obama into the White House four years ago – from being able to vote for his reelection in November.

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