Republican lawmakers in Michigan were met with protests at the Capitol on Tuesday as they set about gutting the state’s new minimum wage and paid sick time proposals, refashioning what began as a voter initiative into a pro-business bill.
Amid a day of protests by hundreds of people across the Capitol on bills that change voter-approved ballot proposals and expand the authority of the Republican-controlled Legislature, the GOP voted to gut proposals to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and require employers to provide sick time for employees.
Protesters filled the rotunda of the Capitol to vent their frustration at Republican legislators who were passing bills that went counter to how the people voted on Nov. 6 . The changes are coming before the Democrats who won statewide offices up and down the ballot are sworn into office on Jan. 1. …
But it was the changes to the minimum wage and paid sick time proposals that caused the most consternation from the crowds. The proposals had been headed for the Nov. 6 ballot but the Legislature voted on the measures before the election to keep them off the ballot. That allowed the Legislature to amend the proposals after the election with a simple majority instead of a three-quarters majority.
Outgoing Governor Rick Snyder reportedly worked with House and Senate Republicans on the bills, but as of Tuesday, he had not said whether he will sign the final iterations.
"The governor and legislators have been discussing the proposals," said Snyder's spokesman, Ari Adler. "Whether or not he signs the bills remains to be seen based on his review of the final legislation."
What changes did Republicans make to the proposals?
On minimum wage, instead of raising it to $12 per hour by 2022, the bill raises it to $12.05 by 2030. And tipped workers such as bartenders and wait staff, who also were supposed to see a $12-hour wage more gradually by 2024, will see their wages only rise to $4.58 by 2030. If a tipped worker's tips don't reach $12.05, the employer is required to make up the difference.
The change from $12 to $12.05 was an attempt to make up for the fact that the new bill no longer ties hourly wages to the rate of inflation. The current $9.25 minimum wage, which was passed in 2014, ties the wage to the rate of inflation that would have ended up increasing the minimum wage to more than $12 by 2030.
Paid sick time, which was supposed to accrue to one hour for every 30 hours worked, or 72 hours per year, was cut to one hour for every 35 hours worked, or a maximum of 40 hours per year. And businesses with 50 or fewer employees were exempted from the paid sick time provisions. The ballot proposal would have exempted businesses with five or fewer employees.