A couple weeks ago, the Michigan court of appeals ruled that an increase to the State’s minimum wage could appear on the November ballot.
Voters may get to decide whether to increase Michigan’s minimum wage and eliminate the tipped minimum wage in November. The Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled in favor of placing a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour on the November ballot, the Detroit Free Press reports. The three judges who heard the case ruled 2-1 against Michigan Opportunity, a group backed by the conservative-leaning Michigan Restaurant Association.
The state’s minimum wage is currently $9.25 per hour and the tipped minimum wage, which applies to restaurant servers and bartenders, sits at $3.52 per hour. The tipped minimum wage assumes that employees make enough tips to earn $5.73 per hour. If the proposal makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters this fall, it would gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022 and slowly increase the tipped minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2024.
Seems like giving the voters the ability to decide on this would be seen as a good thing. Well, not to Republicans.
Michigan Republicans have instead decided to take action to keep voters from deciding on whether or not the State’s minimum wage should be increased.
The Michigan House voted in favor of adopting the minimum wage and paid sick leave proposals. The results mean the issues will no longer go on the ballot and will become law.
Wait a second, so Michigan Republicans decided instead of leaving the issue to the voters, they would just sign the increase into law. Wow, that’s great, right? Not so fast.
The move by state senators appears to be a step in the direction of an adopt-and-amend plan that had been put forth by some Republican lawmakers and groups opposed to the measures including the Michigan Restaurant Association. If Michigan citizens were to vote in favor of the measure on the November ballot, it would require a three-quarters majority vote in the legislature to approve amendments to the law. However, if both the Senate and House were to adopt the issues ahead of the election, it would only require a simple majority to amend the initiatives.
And here’s where we get to the underhanded part of their scheme. Their intention in voting the minimum wage increase into law now is so they can amend it later, with only a simple majority. Whereas, if approved by voters in November, it would require 3/4 of the legislature to amend the law. Why is this important? Republicans in the Michigan State House hold 63 of 110 seats (57%). So, they currently hold a simple majority, but not 3/4 of the legislature.
So, Michigan Republicans are trying to adopt a law so that they can reverse it later on, rather than allow the voters to decide, in which case they would not be able to reverse the law.
There’s one silver lining for those who support increasing the minimum wage: all of the seats in the Michigan Legislature are up for a vote this November. If Democrats can win a majority in the State House, Senate, or both, they can choose to leave the minimum wage increase in place.