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Michigan court ruling halts $13.03 minimum wage increase


A move by Republicans in the 2018 Michigan Legislature to weaken minimum wage and sick leave laws was declared constitutional by an appeals court Thursday, reversing a lower court's ruling last year that would have increased minimum wage in the state by nearly $3 in February.

The Michigan Court of Appeals' unanimous decision stops minimum wage in the state from increasing from $10.10 to $13.03 on Feb. 2 and keeps current wage and benefit requirements intact.

The decision will be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

In July of last year, a judge on the Court of Claims threw out changes made late in 2018 as Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was near the end of his term and Democrats were preparing to take over top statewide posts.

Advocates had turned in enough signatures to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022 and eventually eliminate a lower tipped wage in the restaurant industry. The minimum wage now is $10.10 per hour, less for tipped workers.

There was also a successful petition drive to expand sick leave opportunities.

The Legislature adopted both in 2018 instead of letting voters have their say. But lawmakers then returned a few months later and watered them down by a simple majority vote.

The appeals court ruled Thursday that the Legislature in 2018 had the constitutional power to change the laws initiated by citizens through a petition process.

“The initiatives successfully forced the Legislature to act on the policies contained in the proposals,” Judge Christopher Murray said in the majority opinion. “Then, in amending the proposals, the Legislature continued to address those issues with all the legislators’ constituents’ interests in mind.”

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