by Bruce Walker
The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the process by which Republican legislators amended two 2018 ballot initiatives passed by Michigan voters.
One ballot proposal would have increased the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2023 and increased tipped wages to the full minimum wage. A second ballot measure would have forced businesses to adopt extensive paid sick leave for employees. The proposals would have gone into effect on Feb. 20.
The so-called “adopt and amend” procedure of Republican legislators was determined constitutional by the appellate court; the Michigan Court of Claims had ruled the procedure unconstitutional.
The state’s minimum wage will remain $10.10 per hour, and the tip credit for restaurant employees will remain $3.84.
“The Michigan Chamber thanks the Michigan Court of Appeals for putting politics aside and focusing on whether the plaintiffs’ arguments and earlier trial court’s conclusions were actually supported by the text of the Michigan Constitution,” Wendy Block, senior vice president of business advocacy and member engagement for the Michigan Chamber, said in a statement. “This ruling is welcome news for Michigan’s job providers, who were struggling with how they could possibly make the sweeping and costly changes called for the lower court’s decision – and by the arbitrarily imposed deadline of Feb. 19. If the lower court’s ruling had been left to stand, it would have had dire consequences on the state’s employers, overall business climate and economy – all at a time when our state, communities and families can least afford it.”
An appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court is expected next.
“First, to the extent the trial court focused on the perceived intent of the Legislature, it has been the law of this state for more than 100 years that the motivations in passing legislation are irrelevant,” the court wrote in its determination. “Second, upholding the adopt and amend procedure does not diminish the initiative process…. “
The ruling cites a previous case involving the Michigan Farm Bureau in which “the Court upheld legislative action that could be perceived to be limiting the power of the initiative or referendum, but were nevertheless upheld because the Constitution did not prohibit the action taken.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Protest March for a $15 per Hour Minimum Wage” by Fibonacci Blue. CC BY 2.0.