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Michigan Legislature Approves Initiatives for $12 Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave [Updated]

Republicans aim to keep the issues off the November 6 ballot

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Update, September 6, 7:20 a.m.: 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, if the original language of the initiatives aren’t altered and undermined through adopt-and-amend plan.

The Michigan Senate today voted in favor of adopting measures that would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, eliminated the tipped minimum wage, and required employers to provide earned paid sick leave, the Detroit News reports. If the House also votes in favor of adopting the measures, then they will be kept off the November ballot. The issues would have widespread implications for the state’s restaurant industry.

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. Supporters of Michigan’s One Fair Wage campaign stated last week that the Republican plan would would allow lawmakers to effectively “gut” the initiatives and called on lawmakers to allow the issues to go on the November ballot.

The One Fair Wage campaign have been working for months to gain signatures for the measure, which proposes gradually raising the state minimum wage from $9.25 per hour to $12 per hour by 2022 and slowly increasing the tipped minimum wage from $3.52 per hour to $12 per hour by 2024.

Proponents of the One Fair Wage issue argue that the tipped minimum wage disportionately impacts people of color and women working in the restaurant industry and contributes to sexual harassment, discrimination, and poverty. Supports say that offering restaurant workers a minimum wage will allow employees to receive a more predictable paycheck regardless of how much customers tip on a given night. Opposition groups have argued that increasing the minimum wage would have negative impacts on the industry including forcing restaurants to change formats, reducing the earnings for some tipped workers, and cutting jobs.

Organizers of the ballot initiative said this week that the legislature’s adopt-and-amend plan is unconstitutional and have threatened a lawsuit if Republican lawmakers make significant amendments to the proposals.

Stay tuned for updates on the Michigan House vote.

Michigan Senate OKs Minimum Wage, Paid Leave Initiatives [Detroit News]
Lawmakers Return to Deadline on Minimum Wage, Sick Time Issues [Crain’s]
$12 Minimum Wage Supporters Oppose Proposal to Adopt and Amend Ballot Measure [ED]
Michigan Court Rules $12 Minimum Wage Proposal Should Go on November Ballot [ED]