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House Passes Ban On Salary History Ordinances

March 13, 2018

Democrats accused Republicans of “eroding local control” when the House passed legislation Wednesday that would block local governments from passing ordinances banning employers from asking applicants in an interview or on an application their wage history.

SB 0353, sponsored by Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph), is apparently a reaction to local ordinances passed in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and possibly other cities where such ordinances were put on the books, creating “burdensome regulations for businesses.” 

“This is supposed to be the party of local control, on the other side of the aisle,” Rep. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) told House Republicans. “How many of you campaigned on local control? Demanded local control? A lot of you did.” 

That prompted Moss to call the bill “just another Lansing solution in search of a problem.” 

The House voted 62-46 to pass the bill in a nearly party-line ballot. 

As the vote board opened and Democrats promptly registered their no votes, Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland) was overheard saying, “Whoa, that’s an angry board.” 

The bill has already passed the Senate, also in a party-line split. Proos argued at that time, “It is not local government’s role to place restrictions on what private businesses can or cannot do regarding their hiring practices and requirements.”

The debate was as contentious in the House’s Commerce and Trade Committee before it was reported to the floor.  

In the floor debate, Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) contended the bill would do nothing to improve prosperity in the state. 

“When we enter into the negotiations, we want to have fair and equal access to the information,” Lasinski said. “And right now the information is tilted dramatically on the side of the employer . . . We’ve seen unemployment drop. It’s true, but what we have not seen is wages rise.” 

Proponents of local ordinances to keep employers from learning about a job candidate’s wage history argue the purpose is to address the disparity in wages earned between men and women. 

Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) contended SB 0353 would set back the progress that women in Michigan have made in narrowing that wage gap. 

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce contended in committee meetings there are legitimate reasons why a business might ask for a prospective employee’s salary history. For one, the job candidate’s salary might price them out of the range the business can afford. 

In the vote, only Rep. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) and Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Troy) joined Democrats in dissent. 

The only Democrat to vote yes was Rep. Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park). 

Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit) was absent.

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