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Restaurant industry poll predicts rising prices and closures if 'Adopt and Amend' ruling stands unchanged

an empty row of tables at a restaurant
Andrew Seaman

An industry poll finds roughly one in six Michigan bars and restaurants may have to close if a court ruling increasing Michigan’s minimum wage takes effect.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association says 91% of its members say they’ll have to increase prices if the minimum wage hike takes effect in February.

Last summer, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled the Legislature violated the state constitution when it adopted a ballot proposal to increase the minimum wage and amended it to delay wage increases. Specifically, Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled the state constitution does not allow the Michigan Legislature to adopt a proposed law and then turn around during the same legislative session substantially amend it.

The Adopt and Amend ruling is currently under review by the Court of Appeals.

Justin Winslow is with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. He says a recent poll of Michigan restaurants and bars shows the increase would fall heavier on small businesses.

“They’re the ones who are already in the more vulnerable situation than their chain counterparts. The ones that are more likely to be in that group of closed restaurants permanently from this situation,” said Winslow.

Winslow is hopeful the governor and state Legislature can reach a compromise to change the minimum wage law during the upcoming legislative session.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.