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. Their intention in voting the minimum wage increase into law prior to November was so they could amend it later, which they recently did in a lame duck session, 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. And now the outgoing Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, perhaps most famous for the Flint Water Crisis that occurred under his administration, has added another disgrace to his legacy by signing into law a bill that will delay the minimum wage increase that was just passed a couple months previously so that the people of Michigan could be prevented from having their own say on the matter:
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday signed controversial bills to weaken minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives that had been headed toward the Nov. 6 ballot before intervention by the Republican-led Legislature.
Democratic minorities in the state House and Senate were unable to stop the GOP maneuver, which has no direct precedent and is likely to spur lawsuits.
Under the revised law, Michigan’s minimum wage will increase from $9.25 to $12.05 per hour by 2030, slowing the march to $12 by 2022 called for in the initiative. The minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers will rise to $4.58 by 2030 instead of $12 by 2024.
The paid sick leave law will exempt more than 160,000 small businesses that collectively employ more than 1 million workers from a mandate that would have otherwise applied to every company in the state.
“I look at legislation presented to me through a policy lens — is it the right policy for the state of Michigan and Michiganders as a whole? That’s what I did with these bills and have now signed them into law,” Snyder said in a statement. “I looked at what the potential impacts and benefits of the changes would be and decided that signing these bills was the appropriate action.”
As a result, 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, led by a disgraced Governor who is leaving office, continue to show whose side they are on, and it is not the side of the people of Michigan.