Florida joins Texas in blocking local outdoor worker protections

(NewsNation) —  The Sunshine State lives up to its name every summer, making work in the extreme heat dangerous for highway, construction, farm workers and others who are primary outside all day. Miami-Dade County was considering an ordinance that would mandate breaks in the shade and access to water.

But now, the state of Florida says no.

It’s joined Texas in banning counties and cities from establishing their own heat protection rules. The Florida law takes effect July 1. It also prevents local governments from raising the minimum wage beyond the state level.

While Republican lawmakers say they don’t want a patchwork of heat laws, they did not establish a statewide standard. Some Republicans believe the measure will help workers by keeping employer costs down, thereby keeping more people employed.

Democrats disagree. “This bill is just so mean-spirited and cruel,” Florida state representative Fentrice Driskell told USA Today.

Meanwhile, several other states have strengthened outdoor worker protections. California requires employers to furnish water and shade to workers when the temperature passes 80 degrees. Oregon, Washington, Minnesota and Colorado have also upgraded heat protection rules for outdoor workers.

On the federal level, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to provide workplaces “free from recognized hazards,” including heat-related issues.

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