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2018 ballot proposals

March 16, 2018

By Micah Babcock

With the midterm election just around the corner, ballot initiatives are beginning to wind down as their 180-day signature collection deadlines are within sight. With the current state of these initiatives, it seems that the 2018 ballot is going to be full of issues impactful to small business.

Below are summaries along with SBAM’s current positions on the tentative 2018 ballot proposals:

Part-Time Legislature – “Clean Michigan Government”
Introduced by current Lt. Gov. and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Brian Calley, “Clean Michigan Government” looks to make Michigan a part-time legislature and cut legislative sessions to no more than 90 days a year.
This proposal would cut legislators pay to approximately $30,000 annually and aims to stop the “revolving door” from legislator to lobbyist, requiring at least two years before a legislator or a high-level executive in the legislature can become a lobbyist. It also subjects the governor and legislature to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and puts Michigan’s budget on a two-year cycle.

SBAM currently takes a position against a part-time legislature because pairing a part-time legislature with the current legislative term limits would severely hinder the ability of state legislators to gain the vital institutional knowledge needed to become effective lawmakers.

Legalization of Recreational Marijuana – “Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol”
This ballot proposal, if passed, would allow under state law: the personal possession of up to 2.5 ounces, possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrate, the growth of up to 12 plants and consumption of marijuana and hemp by individuals 21 years of age or older.

Municipalities under this legislation are allowed to adopt ordinances to restrict signs related to marijuana, as well as regulate the time, place and manner of operation of marijuana establishments. Restrictions are also put in place on the production of marijuana edibles so they do not resemble candy or packages that are attractive to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy.

In addition to all other taxes, an excise tax would be imposed on marijuana retailers and each micro-business at a rate of 10 percent of the sales price for marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation Fund created within the state treasury would receive taxes collected that would go toward implementation, administration and enforcement of the act until 2022.

Twenty million dollars would be provided annually to clinical trials approved by the FDA for research regarding the efficacy of marijuana in treating medical conditions of U.S. armed services veterans. Upon appropriation, unexpended balances would be allocated as follows:

  • 15 percent to municipalities with marijuana retailers (allocated proportionately based off the number of marijuana retailers in each municipality)
  • 15 percent to counties with marijuana retailers (allocated proportionately based off the number of marijuana retailers in each county)
  • 35 percent to the School Aid Fund
  • 35 percent to the Michigan Transportation Fund to be used for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges

After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s reversal of an Obama-era policy keeping federal officers away from states that legalized the use of marijuana, it is now up to individual U.S. attorneys to enforce marijuana laws within their districts.

This proposal’s signatures have been submitted and it’s currently in the process of being approved by the Secretary of State to be placed on the 2018 ballot.

SBAM currently has no position on this initiative, but has a task force in place to look at the implications of this initiative on small business and will make a decision on it within the next few months. The decision to support or oppose this initiative will include weighing the pros and cons of increased revenue to the state versus issues employers may have with their employees’ use of marijuana and its effect on the workplace.

Minimum Wage Increase to $12.00 – “One Fair Wage”
This initiative looks to boost Michigan’s minimum wage from the current $8.90 to $12.00 an hour gradually until the year 2022, with yearly inflationary adjustments afterward. This proposal also looks to phase out the lower wage for tipped workers by increasing their wage gradually from the current $3.38 until reaching the minimum wage of $12.00 in 2024. “One Fair Wage” also requires overtime compensation of 150 percent of employee work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

SBAM currently opposes any increase to the minimum wage. 2018 is the fourth straight year Michigan’s minimum wage has increased and this proposal seeks to set it even higher. Restaurants would be the hardest impacted and may lead to layoffs and increased costs for consumers. 

At the time of publication, “One Fair Wage” has not yet turned in their signatures and has a collection deadline of May 30.

Redistricting – “Voters Not Politicians”
“Voters Not Politicians” looks to set up a new redistricting system with a goal to end gerrymandering before 2021 when the next election maps are redrawn. If passed, this would amend Michigan’s constitution to put in place an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to choose district lines, not partisan politicians.
This Commission would consist of 13 Michigan voters who are randomly selected from a group of applicants. The breakdown of the group would be four Republicans, four Democrats and five independent voters with no party affiliation.

If the Secretary of State confirms the signatures turned in, the proposal’s opposition is planning to challenge the legislation on the basis that it amends too many portions of the state’s constitution and therefore would have to be thrown out.

SBAM does not currently have a position on this proposal.

Paid Sick Leave – “MI Time to Care”
This initiative would require all businesses in Michigan to provide access to paid sick leave. This leave includes personal or family health needs, purposes related to domestic violence, sexual assault and school meetings needed because of a child’s disability or health issues.

Employees of a small business under this initiative would be able to accrue a minimum of one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked, but would not be allowed to use more than 40 hours of paid earned sick time a year unless the employer allows a higher limit. If an employee of small business accrues more than 40 hours of earned sick time in a calendar year, the employee is entitled to use up to an additional 32 hours of unpaid earned sick time in that year.

Employees of small business are entitled to use paid earned sick time prior to using unpaid earned sick time. Employees of other businesses shall accrue a minimum of one hour of paid earned sick time for every 30 hours worked, but shall not be entitled to use more than 72 hours of paid earned sick time a year unless the employer selects a higher amount.

Sick time shall carry over from year to year, but a small business is not required to allow an employee to use more than 40 hours of paid sick time and 32 hours of unpaid earned sick time in a single year. As of February 2017, seven states have paid sick leave laws.

SBAM currently takes a position against mandatory paid leave. Making sick leave time a mandate hurts businesses, especially those in tourism, hospitality and retail industries with high turnover and a low ability to handle associated costs. This proposal is one of the most restrictive in the U.S. and SBAM’s Talent Task Force is looking at ways to incentivize and provide voluntary language and tools to enable small businesses to provide sick leave to employees.

Repeal Prevailing Wage – “Protecting Michigan Taxpayers”
“Protecting Michigan Taxpayers” looks to eliminate the prevailing wage, which requires workers on state-financed building projects to be paid at higher wages based on local union contracts. 

SBAM currently supports repealing the prevailing wage because Michigan taxpayers on average pay an additional $127 million annually just for public schools and universities under this outdated legislation. After Ohio repealed the prevailing wage, the Ohio Legislative Service Commission concluded that the repeal saved schools and taxpayers over $487.9 million over four years.

Renewable Energy – “Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan”
Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan is a citizen ballot campaign to protect Michigan’s air and water by increasing the amount of our energy that comes from renewable sources like solar and wind to 30 percent by the year 2030.

SBAM currently opposes this ballot initiative.

Voting Rights – “Promote the Vote”
Recently approved by the Board of Canvassers to begin signature collections. Proposals aims at new voting reforms including no-reason absentee voting, the preservation of straight-ticket voting, allowing for voter registration by mail up to 15 days before an election, automatic voter registration, and providing for election audits among others.

SBAM currently does not have a position on this proposal.

As you can see, many of the potential ballot initiatives in 2018 could impact your small business. In order to have a robust small business environment here in Michigan, we need to ensure our legislators are hearing our voices on these issues. 

Micah Babcock is SBAM’s Grassroots Coordinator & Policy Advisor. He can be reached at

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