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Supreme Court of Florida

December 19, 2019

ADVISORY OPINION TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL RE: RAISING FLORIDA’S MINIMUM WAGE. Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage (Fis).

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          Two Cases : Original Proceedings - Advisory Opinion - Attorney General

         Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Edward M. Wenger, Chief Deputy Solicitor General, Amit Agarwal, Solicitor General, and Christopher J. Baum, Deputy Solicitor General, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

         Jon L. Mills of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Miami, Florida, John B. Morgan of Morgan and Morgan, P.A., and Andrew M. Starling, Orlando, Florida, for Florida for a Fair Wage, an interested party.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The Attorney General of Florida has petitioned this Court for an advisory opinion on the validity of a proposed citizen initiative amendment to the Florida Constitution and the corresponding financial impact statement prepared by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC). We have jurisdiction to review the initiative petition. See art. IV, § 10; art. V, § 3(b)(10), Fla. Const. As explained below, we approve the proposed amendment titled "Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage" for placement on the ballot but decline to

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review the financial impact statement because we lack jurisdiction to do so.

          PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         As required by law, the Attorney General requested an opinion from this Court addressing the validity of an initiative petition titled "Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage." Specifically, the Attorney General requested that we review the compliance of the proposed amendment with the single-subject requirement of article XI, section 3 of the Florida Constitution, and the compliance of the ballot title and summary with the substantive and technical requirements of section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes (2018).[1] In addition, the Attorney General requested an opinion from this Court addressing the compliance of the corresponding financial impact statement with section 100.371, Florida Statutes (2019). We invited briefing as to the validity of the initiative petition and the financial impact statement but received none. See art. IV, § 10; Fla. R. App. P. 9.510(c)(1). Thereafter, we directed the Attorney General and all interested parties to file briefs addressing whether this Court has jurisdiction to review the financial impact statement. We received only one brief, from the Attorney General, which argues that we have jurisdiction.

          LEGAL BACKGROUND

         The people of Florida have the power to propose amendments to the state constitution by initiative under article XI, section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Once an initiative petition is circulated and meets certain technical requirements, see § 15.21, Fla. Stat. (2019), the Attorney General is constitutionally and statutorily required to seek this Court’s opinion on the validity of the petition. Art. IV, § 10; § 16.061(1), Fla. Stat. (2019). The constitution directs us to "address[ ] issues as provided by general law" when the Attorney General invokes our jurisdiction to review initiative petitions. Art. V, § 3(b)(10), Fla. Const.

         Under the authority provided by article V, section 3(b)(10) of the Florida Constitution, and as directed by article IV, section 10, we conduct a limited review of an initiative petition. See Advisory Op. to Att’y Gen. re Prohib. State Spending for Experimentation that Involves Destruction of a Live Human Embryo, 959 So.2d 210, 212, 214 (Fla. 2007). Our review does "not address the merits or wisdom of the proposed amendment," but rather, the compliance of the petition with the requirements of the Florida constitution and statutes. Id. at 212. (quoting Advisory Op. to Att’y Gen. re Fla. Marriage Prot. Amend., 926 So.2d 1229, 1233 (Fla. 2006)).

         Specifically, regardless of whether we receive arguments on the validity of an initiative petition, we review the petition to ensure the following: (A) that the proposed amendment "embrace[s] but one subject and matter directly connected therewith" (except when the proposed amendment limits the power of government to raise revenue), art. XI, § 3, Fla. Const., and (B) that the petition includes a ballot title and summary in compliance with the word-count, clarity, and content requirements of section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes. See Prohib. State Spending for Experimentation that Involves Destruction of a Live Human Embryo, 959 So.2d at 211 n.1, 212-15.

          ANALYSIS

         We first address the compliance of the proposed amendment with the single-subject

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rule and compliance of the ballot title and summary with section 101.161(1). Then, we turn to the question of our jurisdiction to ...


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