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House bill would ban local minimum wage laws, community benefits agreements

via gophouse.org

A new House bill would prevent local governments from setting their own minimum wage laws, putting other additional conditions on employers, or attaching community benefits agreements to development projects.

State Representative Earl Poleski, a Jackson Republican, is the bill’s sponsor. He says it aims to combat the “fragmentation” that results from letting municipalities set their own standards.  

“Those different rules make it complex—and when I say complex, read ‘expensive’—to comply, and frankly impairs businesses abilities to expand and hire people,” Poleski says.

Poleski argues that a “consistent and predictable business environment” statewide should trump concerns about “local control.” But critics argue that cities should be able to set their own standards without state interference.  

“House Bill 5977 sets up the state as a dictatorship telling local units of government that they cannot do what is best for their community, workers and residents when it comes to wages and benefits tied to economic development in that community,” said Detroit State Representative Rashida Tlaib.

The bill’s introduction came as a particular surprise to many in Detroit, where city leaders are debating an ordinance that would require developers to negotiate community benefits agreements for certain large-scale projects.

The idea has drawn a lot of pushback from the city’s business community—including the head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, who wrote a letter warning the City Council that a community benefits ordinance would slow the city’s gathering development momentum before it can reach “critical mass.”

But advocates say there’s no evidence community benefits chill growth—in fact, just the opposite.

“We have some really good evidence that not only are community benefit agreements good for the community, but they actually are helpful for developers,” said Mary King, Executive Director of Doing Development Differently in Detroit.

The bill is now in a House committee, with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning. Poleski says it’s up to the Republican leadership to decide if it will move forward during this “lame duck” session.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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