Michigan legislature guts minimum wage, paid sick leave measures

Michigan legislators late Tuesday approved controversial amendments to laws passed earlier this year that would increase the minimum wage and allow workers to take paid sick leave, angering proponents who believed they had scored significant legislative wins earlier this year.
 
Supporters of both a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave had gathered enough signatures to get both measures on the midterm election ballot. But they dropped those initiatives after the legislature passed the underlying language first.
 
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Now, a month after the midterms, Republicans who control Michigan’s legislature made significant changes to both measures.
 
The state’s minimum wage will still increase to $12 an hour, but the legislature extended the timeline under which that increase will take effect. Instead of hitting $12 an hour by 2022, the minimum wage will gradually increase to hit that ceiling by 2030.
 
The original bill would have indexed the state minimum wage to the inflation rate afterward. The Republican-backed amendments will no longer link the minimum wage to inflation.
 
Legislators also decreased the number of hours a worker at a large company could earn in paid sick leave. 
 
The original proposal, which earned enough signatures to reach the ballot, would have allowed workers to earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 72 hours per year.
 
The new measure would let workers earn an hour of sick time per every 40 hours worked, capped at 36 hours per year.
 
Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) wrote in an advisory opinion earlier this week that legislators were constitutionally allowed to make the changes, revising a half-century-old opinion.
 
Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who will leave office next month after hitting the two-term limit, has not said whether he will sign the bills.
 
But state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R) said Snyder told him he would sign the legislation if they reached his desk.
 
Michigan Republicans will maintain their significant majorities in both the state House and Senate next year, but Snyder will be replaced by a Democrat, Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer. Democrats also won races for attorney general and secretary of state.
 
The lame-duck legislature is also considering measures to reduce the power of both the incoming attorney general and secretary of state.
 
Those measures are still before the state House and Senate, and are likely to be voted on later this week.