With over 400,000 signatures supporting the initiatives, citizen groups throughout Michigan had qualified two proposals for the November 6, 2018, ballot. The Michigan One Fair Wage (MOFW) and Michigan Time To Care (MTTC), would have raised Michigan’s minimum wage to $12.00/hour by 2022 and required employers to provide workers with one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, respectively.
Instead of respecting the will of the people and allowing voters to weigh in on the proposals, the Republican majority in our State Legislature passed the proposals into law to keep them off the ballot. Then in December 2018, during the lame duck session, they gutted the earlier proposals pushing the $12 minimum out by 8 years from now and pegged the minimum for tipped workers to rise only from $3.52 to $4.58, over that same time period. This will directly impact 1.1 million workers who have been afforded a livable wage.
This dishonorable tactic is now being challenged as illegal. The State Supreme Court heard arguments on July 17 and will soon decide on that legal challenge.
An unprecedented group of civil rights leaders, justice advocates, community and labor organizations, state and federal elected officials, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, filed more than a dozen amicus briefs with the Michigan Supreme Court opposing the constitutionality of the legislature’s efforts to remove the two proposals from the ballot.
As a member of the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Justice Network, I join with those groups in calling for the Court to find the Legislature’s efforts as unconstitutional. We must not permit the “adopt and amend or repeal” scheme to stand. If it does it will mark the end of the people’s century-old constitutional right of statutory initiative in Michigan because future legislatures will simply “adopt and amend or repeal” any proposal they dislike.