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Gov Signs Paid Sick Leave, Minimum Wage Changes

Gov Signs Paid Sick Leave, Minimum Wage Changes

Gov. Rick Snyder Friday signed into law changes to the minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives favored by the GOP Legislature and the business community.

SB 1171, sponsored by Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell), changes the minimum wage proposal by having it go to $12.05 by 2030, rather than the originally proposed $12 by 2022. 

It also keeps the tip credit and raises the minimum wage for tipped workers to $4.58 by 2030. The citizens' initiative would've thrown out the tip credit and eventually raise tipped workers' wages to the same level as the regular minimum wage.

The Hildenbrand bill also ends the future minimum wage increases being tied to increases in the consumer price index (CPI), meaning the law provides for no increases to the wage after 2030.

And SB 1175, sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), has workers earning up to 40 hours of paid sick time each year, and workers could earn one hour of paid leave for every 35 hours worked. Both of those changes came from the House, which tweaked the Senate proposal.

In the original paid sick leave proposal, workers could earn 72 hours of sick leave in a year, and an hour for every 30 hours worked.

SB 1175 exempts the requirement to provide paid sick leave from businesses with 50 or fewer employees, and allows employees to begin accruing and using hours toward sick leave immediately upon the effective date of the law, except for new employees, who must wait 90 days.

The MI Time to Care campaign – the proponents behind the paid sick leave proposal – protested the small business exemption, arguing nearly 40 percent (or 2 million) of Michigan workers work in businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

SB 1175 also nixed references to "domestic partner" throughout the proposal, which the House Fiscal Agency (HFA) said is defined as an adult in a "committed relationship" that would also include same-sex relationships. It also says people can't use paid sick leave to take care of a domestic partner's relatives, according to the HFA.

Both bills went through the House and Senate on largely party-line votes.

The changes to the paid sick leave and minimum wage proposals were favored by business groups, who said the proposals as written would be harmful for the economy and job providers.

"Without these changes, these laws as adopted would have had a negative impact on employee/employer relations and would have taken an economic wrecking ball to Michigan's overall competitiveness," said Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.

"Every server I've met throughout the last couple of months didn't want the tip credit removed," said Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), in a statement. "Most servers make much more than $12 an hour and the language in the ballot proposal would have been unfavorable for them in the long-run."

The Governor said the original proposals were "well-intentioned" but would have resulted in "cost and compliance burdens for job providers that could have negatively impacted employment in Michigan."

Snyder said the paid sick leave bill offers "the majority of workers" paid leave of up to a week off work, one of 11 states that provide such a benefit, according to Snyder's office. On minimum wage, the bill would help keep Michigan in the top third of states nationally.

But supporters of the initiatives protested the changes, arguing it would gut the original intent of the policies and undermine the will of the people who signed the petitions.

"For the people of Michigan, the gutting of earned paid sick time and the minimum wage is personal to them and their families," said DeWayne Wells, executive director of the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan (EJAM).

"A literal cloud hangs over the Capitol today to match the figurative cloud of shame that Gov. Snyder brought on by signing these bills," said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), in a statement.

Progress Michigan said Snyder's signing "cements his legacy as a governor who cares nothing about hardworking Michiganders."

The EJAM issued poll results Friday that show 84 percent of Michigan voters supported the paid sick leave as passed by the Legislature in September, and another 77 percent supported the original minimum wage proposal.

The poll, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, also said 74 percent of voters would be less favorable toward a legislator who changed their vote and decided to "repeal the paid sick leave policy," according to the polling memo. 

For minimum wage, 71 percent of independents said they'd be less favorable to a lawmaker who voted to "repeal the new minimum wage law," as the memo puts it.

The poll consisted of 1,406 interviews with registered Michigan voters between Nov. 26 and Dec. 6, with a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

The Legislature approved the two ballot proposals in September, rather than let them go to the November ballot, with the intention of coming back to change them.

While critics contended that approving and amending a ballot proposal in the same session is unconstitutional, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion, as requested by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-Grand Haven Twp.), saying it is constitutional.

The paid sick leave group has threatened to bring legal action or run another ballot proposal campaign in 2020.

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