Michigan voters tried to get a minimum wage increase on the ballot in November.
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.
Michigan Republicans instead voted prior to November to enact the minimum wage increase that was to be on the ballot, thus removing the initiative from appearing on the November ballot.
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.
Sounds like good news, right? Well, it wasn’t good news, and Michigan Republicans are now showing why:
The new minimum wage law from the initiative isn’t in effect until March of next year. As written, the law slowly brings minimum wage for tipped workers like waiters and bartenders up to the same level as regular minimum wage and raises minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022.
But under the bill approved by the Senate Government Operations Committee, the minimum wage would raise more slowly, hitting $12 per hour by 2030 instead of 2022, and stopping there instead of indexing to inflation afterward.
In addition, the latest version keeps the wage for tipped workers lower than minimum wage instead of bringing tipped workers up to the same wage level as minimum wage workers.
A little background in case you are confused by what Michigan Republicans are doing. Their intention in voting the minimum wage increase into law prior to November was so they could amend it later, which they are doing now, with only a simple majority. Whereas, if the law had been approved by voters in November, it would have required 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 adopted a minimum wage increase themselves, rather than allowing the voters to decide, all so they could water down the increase later on. As a result, if the amendment passes the State House, which looks likely, the minimum wage will not increase to $12 an hour by 2022, as it would if the voters had been allowed to approve, and will instead only increase to $12 an hour in 2030, 8 years longer than the original proposal. Michigan Republicans continue to show whose side they are on, and it is not the side of the people of Michigan.