Michigan Republicans move to gut minimum wage and paid sick leave laws

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: Gov. Rick Snyder, (R-MI), listens to members comments during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, about the Flint, Michigan water crisis, on Capitol Hill March 17, 2016 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining how lead ended up in the public drinking water in Flint, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
With Rick Snyder on his way out, Michigan Republicans have to work fast

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Michigan Republicans are following through on a twisted plan they laid in September, when they somehow managed to make the act of passing a minimum wage increase and paid sick leave evil. By passing those bills, they intended to, and did, block ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage and passing paid sick leave. Voters didn’t get a chance to have their say on the policies because they were already law, while leaving them easily amended during the lame duck session. That’s what Republicans are gearing up to do now.

One ballot initiative that Republicans blocked would have raised the minimum wage to $12 in 2022. They’re now planning to push that back to 2030. That puts Michigan well behind Missouri, where voters passed a $12 minimum wage in 2023 this November. Michigan Republicans also plan to block tipped workers from eventually getting the full minimum wage. But they’re not done there. They’re also gearing up to slash the number of hours of paid sick leave that workers get, while exempting businesses with as many as 50 employees from the requirement.

Republicans are telling the usual lies about how terrible and job-killing these laws would be if not eviscerated, but come on! Ten states and Washington, D.C., have paid sick leave and more than half the states in the nation, Michigan included, have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 an hour. Study after study shows that economies do just fine. And the fact that Republicans cut and ran from a ballot vote, instead using dirty tricks to keep these popular policies off the ballot and then turning around and gutting them, shows that they know their arguments don’t hold water.

The good news is that once Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer is sworn in, there will at least be a check on the Republican power to be this slimy and dishonest.

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