In the sixteen years between the passage of Amendment 5 in 2004 and Amendment 2 in 2020, the only increases to Florida’s minimum wage were annual adjustments to keep pace with inflation. Amendment 2 called for gradually increasing the state minimum wage to $15 per hour, starting at $10 in September 2021 and increasing by $1 annually until it reaches $15 in 2026. After that, the minimum wage would be annually increased to match inflation.
Without a meaningful boost to the state minimum wage, some local governments tried to pass their own minimum wage laws. For example, The City of Miami Beach passed a $13.31 gradual minimum wage in 2016. However, business groups that opposed the statewide minimum wage, like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, sued the city for violating Florida’s 2003 ban against setting local wages. The Florida Attorney General publicly supported the case against the city. Miami Beach’s ordinance was struck down, and the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal in 2019. Amid this political stalemate emerged Amendment 2, the 2020 minimum wage initiative.
The 2020 Election happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed longstanding racial and gender inequities while also spotlighting the unique struggles faced by small businesses and nonprofits to stay afloat. Both proponents and opponents of Amendment 2 attempted to leverage the pandemic to publicize their cases.
Amendment 2 passed with 6.4 million votes, making Florida the eighth state to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, and the first in the South to do so by ballot measure, which signaled major policy implications for the rest of the country. In response, state leaders again attempted to undermine the pro-worker minimum wage law. Bills introduced in the 2021 and 2022 Florida legislative sessions threatened to exclude certain workers from Amendment 2, including young people and the formerly incarcerated. Other bills threatened voters’ power via ballot initiatives, including proposals as recent as 2021 and 2023. Thus far, these measures have failed to gain traction.
 The seven states that passed minimum wage increases eventually reaching $15 per hour prior to Florida were California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. CAL. LAB. CODE § 1182.12 (West 2022); CONN. GEN. STAT. §§ 31–58 (2022); 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. § 105/4a (2022); MD. CODE ANN., LAB. & EMPL. § 3-413 (West 2022); MASS. GEN. LAWS Ch. 151, § 1 (2022); N.J. STAT. ANN. § 34:11-56a4 (West 2022); N.Y. LAB. LAW § 652 (McKinney 2022).