minimum wage

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A divided Michigan Supreme Court has declined to rule early on the constitutionality of Republicans' lame-duck maneuver to weaken voter-proposed minimum wage and paid sick leave laws.

In a 4-3 decision Wednesday, justices said they won't issue a rare advisory opinion and will wait until a lawsuit is filed. Justices had heard arguments about the "adopt and amend" strategy used last year.

Michigan Supreme Court
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The Michigan Supreme Court is considering the legality of Republican lawmakers' unprecedented maneuver to significantly scale back minimum wage increases and paid sick leave requirements that began as ballot drives.

Justices heard arguments Wednesday.

Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud said the Legislature's 2018 strategy - known as adopt-and-amend - was "outright" unconstitutional and a "slap in the face to the people." A lawyer for the House and Senate said nothing in the state constitution prevents the tactic.

Hands exchanging money

State laws changing Michigan's minimum wage and what employers can offer workers in paid sick leave are set to go into effect.

On Friday, hourly pay rises from $9.25 to $9.45. Businesses with more than 50 workers also have to start offering one hour of paid medical leave for every 35 hours an employee works.

Both proposals were initiated by Michigan residents, but changed last year by the Republican-led Legislature. The state supreme court and Michigan Attorney General's office are reviewing the changes.

Prevailing wage

The Republican-led Michigan Senate is asking the state Supreme Court to rule on the legality of an unprecedented maneuver by which citizen-initiated minimum wage and paid sick leave laws were watered down.

The Senate on Wednesday sought an advisory opinion from the justices, an attempt to bypass what could be lengthy litigation. The move comes after a Democratic senator asked Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel to advise whether the strategy was constitutional.

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Lawmakers are gathering in Lansing this week during the lame duck session focusing on paid sick leave and minimum wage bills. West Michigan auto suppliers are preparing for an anticipated industry slowdown. Metro Health Foundation capitalizing on U of M affiliation.

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The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has adopted ballot initiatives that would increase the state's minimum wage and require paid sick leave.

If the GOP-led House follows suit later Wednesday, the measures will become law and not be placed on the Michigan ballot in November. The strategy would make it easier for lawmakers to change the proposals in the postelection "lame-duck" session with simple majority votes. A group backing the minimum wage drive says the maneuver would be unconstitutional.

Organizers of Michigan One Fair Wage met in Lansing Tuesday afternoon and had a message for the state legislature—keep the minimum wage initiative on the November ballot.

Michigan One Fair Wage is a ballot initiative that 400,000 signatories signed onto to get it on the ballot to raise the minimum wage to $12-an-hour over the next several years. State Republicans are considering adopting the initiative before the November ballot in order to amend it later. Specifically, removing the $12 minimum wage that tipped employees would receive.

Michigan's minimum wage will rise to $9.25 an hour starting Jan. 1. That's a 35-cent raise from the current minimum of $8.90 per hour. It's the final definitive increase provided by a 2014 law, the state said Friday. Beginning in 2019, however, the minimum wage is due to increase annually with inflation unless the unemployment rate is high.

Employers can pay 85 percent of the minimum to employees age 16 and 17. The training wage remains at $4.25 per hour for new hires age 16 to 19 for the first 90 days of employment.

Millions of workers across the U.S. will see their pay increase as 19 states bump up their minimum wages as the new year begins. California, New York and Michigan are among the states with increases taking effect Saturday or Sunday. 

Massachusetts and Washington state will have the highest new minimum wages at $11 per hour. California will raise its wage to $10.50 for large businesses. New York state is taking a regional approach, with the wage rising to $11 in New York City, $10 in its suburbs and $9.70 upstate.

Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

A higher minimum wage was the demand of protestors at the State Capitol Monday.

They want Governor Rick Snyder and the legislature to boost the state wage from $8.50 an hour, to $15.00 an hour. They called the current minimum wage a ‘slave wage.’

Velma Cornelius is a child care worker. She says she makes $9.50 an hour and has been working to increase the minimum wage for the last seven years.

“Because you can’t raise no shorty on nine-forty,” she said. “And you can’t survive, off of ten-forty-five.”