Groups sue over maneuver that weakened Michigan’s wage, sick time laws

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Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 2:47 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A lawsuit says Michigan Republicans’ lame-duck maneuver to weaken voter-proposed minimum wage and paid sick leave laws in 2018 was unconstitutional.

The complaint filed Tuesday comes more than 16 months after the Michigan Supreme Court declined to issue an advisory opinion on the legality of the move.

In 2018, groups circulated petitions seeking to mandate minimum wage increases up to $12 an hour and mandatory paid sick days for Michigan employers. The groups submitted enough signatures to move the issue forward and the Republican-led Legislature approved the bills that September.

Lawmakers could have put the issue up for a statewide vote rather than approving it in the Legislature.

However, the Republican-led Legislature used a controversial “adopt and amend” strategy for the first time. Republicans approved major changes to remove or delay some provisions the laws that December, which former Gov. Rick Snyder signed shortly before leaving office.

The changes made the laws more friendly to businesses. Specifically, the pace of minimum wage hikes was slowed, a provision requiring tipped employees to earn a minimum wage equal to other employees was removed and the paid sick time requirement was cut in half from 72 hours to 36.

Former Republican Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion late in 2018 indicating that the state Constitution prohibits lawmakers from significantly altering laws passed on a statewide ballot, but there is no “express limitations on amending a legislatively enacted initiated law.”

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