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Lawmakers Urged to Keep Higher Minimum Wage

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Groups supportive of the minimum wage claim it is unconstitutional to try to amend the bill during the end-of-year session. (One Fair Wage MI)
Groups supportive of the minimum wage claim it is unconstitutional to try to amend the bill during the end-of-year session. (One Fair Wage MI)
November 28, 2018

LANSING, Mich. - The group behind the campaign to raise the minimum wage in Michigan is meeting with lawmakers today to push back against efforts to water down the new law during the lame-duck session.

Legislators passed a bill to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, including for tipped workers, in order to keep it off the ballot after more than 500,000 voters signed the petition.

Pete Vargas, campaign manager for Michigan One Fair Wage, said it's unconstitutional for the state Senate to turn around and try to amend it before the new Legislature is seated.

"By adopting it with the intent to amending it in the same legislative session," he said, "we believe this tramples on the democratic process and undermines the rule of law."

The amended bill would exempt tipped workers from the higher minimum wage and also would loosen protections that keep bosses from taking workers' tips. If lawmakers pass the bill during the next few weeks, backers have vowed to file suit.

The Michigan Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce have been fighting the higher minimum wage, saying it would place too large a burden on business.

Vargas encouraged voters to call their legislators and speak out on the minimum wage as well as on another bill to change some of the sick-time provisions passed in September.

"Paid sick time is also on the chopping block and in the crosshairs," he said, "and the only people who know for sure when that initiative is going to be amended is the Republican leadership right now in the Senate and the House."

The groups are busing in supporters from Flint, Saginaw, Detroit and Adrian for today's event. More information is online at protectmiraise.com.

The text of Senate Bill 1171, to amend the minimum wage, is here and SB 1175, to amend sick leave, is here.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI