Is the Legislature Playing ‘3D’ Chess?

Until recently, two separate citizen-initiated proposals were scheduled to appear on the November ballot: (1) the Michigan minimum wage increase initiative (“One Fair Wage”), which would gradually increase Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022, and then adjust the minimum wage based on increases in the consumer price index beginning in 2023; and (2) a Michigan paid sick leave initiative (“MI Time to Care”), which would require employers with ten or more employees to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave to employees each year. These proposals, while supported by many workers’ interest groups, have been subject to harsh criticism by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other business interest groups that believe the measures would be unworkable for many local businesses.

Last month, the Republican-led Michigan Legislature enacted both proposals, thereby taking these issues out of the hands of voters. Had the citizen-initiated proposals been approved by voters, it would have been very difficult – if not impossible – for the Legislature to alter the as-approved laws anytime soon. By instead passing these initiatives directly (and thus, avoiding the ballot box), the Legislature can attempt to modify both laws before they take effect in end of March/beginning of April.

The final takeaway: If the Michigan Legislature does not take further action, both laws will become effective next March. But as of now, that appears doubtful as both laws will likely be amended to address concerns from members of the business community.

Please stay tuned for future updates and contact Wright Beamer at (248) 477-6300 for assistance with your business and employment law needs.