Saturday, December 15, 2018

Michigan Republican Governor Weakens Minimum Wage/Paid Sick Leave

Apparently, many Republicans don't really believe in democracy if by democracy you mean that the people ultimately get the final say. What they do believe in though is using the process of democracy to thwart the will of the voters. Lose an election? Rewrite the laws and rules so that the incoming elected officials don't have the same power that you had when you were in office. 

Getting worried about ballot initiatives but don't want to be seen to oppose them before an election? Adopt them and then immediately gut them after the election.

Lansing — 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.

The minimum wage law will raise Michigan’s rate from $9.25 to $12.05 per hour by 2030, instead of the $12 by 2022 proposed under 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 now exempts more than 160,000 small businesses that have fewer than 50 employees each from a mandate that would have otherwise applied to every company in the state.



Republicans adopted the initiatives in September in order to keep them off the ballot and make them easier to amend, arguing the proposals could hurt the business community, which heavily lobbied for the changes. Democrats blasted the effort, arguing Republican legislators were undermining the will of hundreds of thousands of voters who had signed petitions to advance more generous initiatives.

Michigan lawmakers had never adopted citizen-initiated legislation only to amend it during the same two-year session, prompting questions over the legality of the GOP action. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette gave his legal blessing, telling lawmakers that the Michigan Constitution does not prohibit the move. Schuette reversed 1964 legal opinion from then-Attorney General Frank Kelly, a Democrat, who had said adopting and amending an initiative in the same session would violate the “the spirit and letter” of the initiative process.

MI Time to Care, the group behind the paid sick leave initiative, has said it is prepared to take legal action and could mount another petition drive to put the measure on the ballot in 2020. The GOP-led House this week, meanwhile, approved a controversial bill that would make petition drives more difficult by capping the number of signatures that could be gathered in any single congressional district. LINK


The issue is not whether or not a higher minimum wage is a good idea or extending paid sick leave is a good idea. The issue is that the people decided that they were or more accurately the people decided that the people should vote on those ideas. The Republican legislature and governor took that choice away from the people in a transparently dishonest and possibly illegal fashion. There will be a continued fight in Michigan to bring those ideas back to the ballot box and get rid of the slimy SOBs who would undermine the people's right to vote.
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