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About two dozen people rallied outside St. Petersburg City Hall on a brisk morning to voice their agenda for the Legislative session beginning in Tallahassee today.

Killing bills that would allow fracking, the controversial method for extracting natural gas, and squashing legislation that would hurt undocumented immigrants were on the agenda. As was a renewed call for a statewide living wage of $15 per hour.

Hundreds of workers, union members and supporters gathered on Tuesday night in downtown Miami to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Joining an estimated 270 cities across America, the Fight for 15 movements in Tampa and St Petersburg flexed their muscles Tuesday. They packed Lykes Gaslight Park in Downtown Tampa for a rally that brought out politicians, economists and plenty of low wage workers in the afternoon, hours after after staging an early morning strike at a McDonald's on 62nd Avenue N. in St. Petersburg.

Americans all across the nation have been calling for lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to the livable wage it was meant to be when it was first implemented. Democrats, like President Obama, have expressed their desire to see it raised and help pull millions of hardworking Americans out of poverty, but Republicans have blocked every attempt to do so.

Starting Monday a group of 18 Florida state lawmakers has agreed to live on $17 a day for five days to promote a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The hope is the Minimum Wage Challenge will bring attention to how low-wage workers struggle on a daily basis. The $17 figure was calculated based on what a full-time minimum wage worker could expect to have left on a daily basis after basic living expenses it. Currently the state minimum wage is $8.05 an hour.

With less than $12, state Rep. Vic Torres Jr., D-Orlando, bought a small supply of groceries for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow from Sedano’s Supermarket in Orlando. The purchases for Torres and his wife included a couple of cans of red kidney beans, tomato sauce, a quart of milk, bananas and pork chops, which was the most expensive item he bought at $3.58. 

Torres was at a rally in front of the store on Monday, Sept. 28, to join in the minimum-wage challenge with other state legislators and raise awareness about the struggles low-wage workers face. During the next five days, 18 Democrats from the Florida House and Senate will live on $17 a day, which is the average daily budget of a worker making $8.05 an hour.  

Listen to radio clip.

Two Democratic Florida lawmakers are announcing a new push to increase Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.Florida’s current minimum wage stands at $8.05 an hour, equaling just over $15,000 a year. This issue strikes a chord with some lawmakers and protestors.

Healthcare, child care and fast food workers converged on the Capitol Thursday from all across the state. Workers expressed their inability to afford basic necessities, even when working multiple jobs. Patricia Walker, a homecare worker, spoke passionately from personal experience.

“I love what I do, so with that I still struggle every day. But I give my clients the love and the care that they need every day, and I have to go home and figure out where my next meal is coming from, or how I’m gonna pay this bill or that bill,” she said.

It's sort of a predictable sequence of events: Democrats call for minimum wage hike, Republican committee chairmen don't hear it.

The philosophical difference in whether Florida's $8.05 minimum wage is high enough -- or should even exist -- is playing out again. On Thursday, Democratic lawmakers made a public push for bills in the next legislative session (SB 6, HB 105) filed by Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, to increase it to $15 per hour, joined by union representatives and minimum wage earners.

"No matter how you slice it and dice it, when you pay someone a wage that you cannot live on -- and I say this as an African American -- that's akin to slavery," said Bullard. "You've locked them in a cycle of poverty that they cannot get out of."

A group of Democratic lawmakers backed by about 40 low-wage workers from across the state on Thursday kicked off the Fight for 15 — an effort to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Standing in front of the Senate chambers at the state Capitol, Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami-Dade, noted Orlando led the nation in the number of jobs paying less than $20,000 a year, and it was time for Florida to join “the big boys” like New York and increase pay for home health care workers, tourism employees and other service workers.

Tampa progressives met to herald a major milestone for the Fight for 15 movement, which made a major breakthrough Thursday in New York, with Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing a proposal for a state-wide minimum wage of $15/hr. 

If passed, New York would become the first to have a statewide $15 minimum wage after victories for the movement in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Notably, Cuomo made this announcement alongside Vice President Joe Biden, a possible presidential candidate, cementing the Fight for 15 into the mainstream consciousness and foreshadowing what could potentially become a defining issue in the 2016 presidential election.

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