GOP legislature is scheming to gut Michigan's new minimum wage law


In a shameful plot to avoid the will of the voters, Michigan Republicans passed a law raising the minimum wage just so they could gut it in the lame-duck session before a new Democratic governor takes over.

In the 2018 midterms, Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported the Democratic candidate for governor, Gretchen Whitmer. She beat her conservative GOP challenger, outgoing Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, by nearly 10 percentage points.

With that, Michigan voters sent a clear message that they favored the sort of progressive values Whitmer ran on, including policies like raising the minimum wage, enforcing equal pay laws, and offering paid family leave.

Now, however, the Republican-controlled state legislature — led by Arlan B. Meekhof, the state senate’s Republican majority leader — wants to use its lame-duck session to eradicate an existing minimum wage law before Whitmer takes office in January 2019.

Earlier this year, the Michigan legislature passed a law that would require businesses to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour.

GOP state lawmakers didn't do this because they genuinely want to see people make more money, though. They did it because progressive groups in Michigan had obtained enough signatures to get a minimum wage question on the ballot.

If the measure had passed via ballot referendum, it would have taken a three-fourths majority of the Michigan legislature to overturn it, and the GOP doesn't have a three-fourths majority. If the legislature itself passed a minimum wage law, however, that could be undone by a simple majority.

So the GOP took the choice away from the voters and passed their own measure to raise the minimum wage, all while admitting that they would radically change the law right after the election.

It's not entirely clear how the lame-duck legislature plans to amend the existing law, but the Michigan GOP is in thrall to conservative business groups that didn't want the wage increase.

Michigan voters want policies that benefit workers, not just corporations, and a fair minimum wage law is central to that goal.

But with tricks like these, Michigan Republicans are proving they don't care about respecting the will of the people they are supposed to represent.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.