Weeks before Michigan’s new Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are set to take office, the state’s GOP-controlled legislature on Tuesday rolled back progressive policies, passing amendments to do away with Michigan’s minimum wage increase and paid sick leave.
The legislature initially approved the measures in September. Advocates had originally intended on making the policy changes through ballot initiative during the midterm elections, expecting them to receive widespread support from voters — but soon realized that the Republican-majority had voted in favor of the bills likely because they intended on stripping the laws during the lame-duck session.
The original version of the minimum wage bill sought to incrementally increase the minimum wage from $9.25 an hour to $12 an hour by 2022. The minimum wage for tipped workers would increase from $3.52 an hour to $12 an hour by 2024.
The gutted version put forth by the legislature, meanwhile, would increase the minimum wage to $12 by 2030 and bring tipped wages to only $4 by 2030.
Later on Tuesday, after meeting with outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder (R), lawmakers revised their position slightly, agreeing to raise the minimum wage to $12.05 and the tipped wage to $4.58 by 2030.
The paid sick leave measure aimed to enable employees to accrue paid sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. The GOP legislature changed it to one hour for every 40 hours work, a dramatic shift from 72 hours annually to 36 hours annually.
“There’s an interest in improving these and there are things that need to be cleaned up,” Speaker of the House Tom Leonard (R) said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Sen. Curtis Hertel (D) said the changes reflected an unwillingness on the part of the GOP to heed the will of voters.
“The answer is that you don’t like the results of the election and negotiations won’t work out the way you want to in the next session,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m willing to negotiate, but I will not support a blatant disregard of our democracy.”
As the bills await Republican Gov. Snyder’s signature, hundreds have protested at the state capitol, with some calling the GOP legislature’s actions unconstitutional. According to Bridge Magazine reporter Lindsay VanHulle, protesters gathered at the Capitol building Tuesday morning, chanting, “Keep your hands off our bills!”
People are in the Michigan Capitol rotunda protesting #lameduck session, including possible House votes on bills to scale back minimum wage, sick leave laws that started as citizen initiatives. #mileg pic.twitter.com/to8Rsjw9BE
— Lindsay VanHulle (@LindsayVanHulle) December 4, 2018
The Michigan legislature’s actions reflect a disturbing trend among outgoing Republican administration’s to block Democratic policy initiatives and strip incoming lawmakers of their powers at the last minute.
Protests also erupted in Wisconsin Tuesday, when it was apparent that state legislators were planning to approve legislation that sought to undermine the authority of Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul (D). That measure was passed early Wednesday morning and is expected to be signed into law by outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker.