On July 19, Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled in Mothering Justice vs. Dana Nessel that the Legislature violated the Michigan Constitution when, in 2018, it amended two citizen initiatives. One initiative would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour over a period of years with an inflation adjustment in place once the maximum was reached. It would also eliminate the lower tipped minimum wage. A separate initiative would allow employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 72 hours per year.
Prior to the 2018 election, the Republican-led legislature took up and passed the two ballot proposals, thus preventing them from going before voters. After the election, the Legislature then voted to amend the ballot proposals, effectively limiting the pool of employers subject to the law to those with 50 or more employees and reducing the sick time hours that could be earned.
The judge ruled that nothing in the Michigan Constitution empowers the Legislature to adopt and amend an initiative petition in the same legislative session, and that doing so effectively undermines the ability of voters to decide.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other groups like the AFL-CIO praised the order. While several groups from the business community, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, warned the ruling could have a crippling effect on employers and employees.
A stay is expected to be filed. Business groups may also choose to appeal.