Governor Rick Snyder signed two bills into law that weaken voter initiatives to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave for workers. Republican legislators passed the initiatives into law in September to prevent them from going on the ballot. That allowed them to extensively amend the measures.
An increase of minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022 will be delayed until 2030. The current minimum wage is $9.25 per hour. The original voter initiative would have also increased wages for tipped workers from 38% of minimum wage to full regular minimum wage by 2024. The bill signed by Snyder keeps wages for tipped workers at 38% of minimum wage. It also removes a provision that would have matched annual increases in minimum wage to inflation.
The sick time measure was altered to increase the number of hours people have to work to earn an hour of sick time. Under the original initiative, workers would have earned an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked up, to a maximum of 72 hours per year. The final version of the law allows workers to earn one hour for every 35 hours worked up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. The bill also excludes smaller businesses from being required to provide earned sick days.
The term-limited Republican governor's move Friday is sure to prompt a lawsuit over an unprecedented strategy adopted by lame-duck lawmakers. Supporters of the bills say the changes were necessary to help Michigan businesses stay competitive. But critics say it's an unconstitutional attack on voters' will as Michigan and Wisconsin Republicans are trying to dilute the powers of incoming elected Democrats.