1 good ballot proposal dies, two others are resurrected | News, Sports, Jobs
The past few weeks have been interesting for ballot initiatives.
First, the disheartening news: Last month, the State Board of Solicitors refused to certify signatures on a ballot proposal that would cap payday loan interest rates at 36%. Too many signatures were deemed invalid on their own or were on incorrectly completed petition sheets.
The payday loan ballot initiative has had popular support, including that of the Michigan League for Public Policy.
And, if the experiences of other states are any indicator, the proposal would likely have passed. Michigan payday lenders charge between 175% and 402% APR and often trap borrowers in a cycle of debt. While the ballot initiative’s disqualification is a disappointment, the League will continue to support legislative and other efforts to protect payday loan consumers, including establishing an interest cap.
The same week that the payday loan initiative was rejected, a Court of Claims judge ruled that when the Michigan Legislature used a tactic informally called “pass and amend” to prevent minimum wage proposals and of 2018’s paid sick leave to reach the ballot in their original form, it violated the state constitution.
The Legislature had passed bills with language identical to the two ballot initiatives, which under Michigan’s constitution writes a ballot proposal into law without requiring the governor’s signature.
But they did so with the aim of weakening their dispositions after the November 2018 elections.
As expected, during the “lame duck” session that year, the legislature amended the new laws to drastically reduce the population of workers who would be eligible for paid sick leave and drastically reduced minimum wage increases – then the government. Rick Snyder happily signed the changes to the bill.
Amended vacation pay and minimum wage laws were significantly watered down from the ballot proposal that was due to go to voters in November 2018.
While the original paid sick leave proposal would have required all workers to be covered, the amended law exempts employers with fewer than 50 employees, leaving out much of Michigan’s workforce. The original minimum wage proposal would have raised Michigan’s regular minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, but the amended proposal won’t raise it to that level until 2030.
What is particularly significant is that the original proposal would have raised the minimum wage for tipped workers to the normal minimum wage level by 2024, while the gutted law keeps it at just 38% of the normal minimum wage.
Understandably, there were unresolved questions about when the Court of Claims’ decision will take effect, and the business groups have pledged to appeal. Ten days later, citing concerns about “the ability of employers and relevant state agencies to immediately adapt to the changes,” the same judge delayed implementation of the ruling for 205 days (until February 2023 ).
If the July 19 ruling is appealed to a higher court, the court could extend the stay or overturn the ruling altogether.
Before the 205-day reprieve was put in place, state officials said that when the new policies go into effect, minimum wage levels will increase to the level they would have been for that year in the proposal. initial vote. In other words, if they were to go into effect this year, the minimum wage would drop directly from $9.87 an hour to $12 an hour and the tipped minimum wage would drop from $3.84 to $10.10 per hour.
Much is changing with these proposals and their legal status at this time, as there is always the possibility that a higher court will choose to hear an appeal.
But, as it stands, the original ballot proposals will go into effect in February 2023.
The League was proud to support both of these initiatives in 2018, and we strongly opposed legislative maneuvers to weaken them. The Court of Claims ruling is good news for workers, but it’s also good news for policy advocates, and we hope that regardless of the legal process, the original intent of the initiatives and voters of Michigan who signed these petitions will be respected.
Peter Ruark is a senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy.