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Changes to minimum wage and earned sick time measures on way to governor

Governor Rick Snyder will now decide whether to approve major changes to voter initiated laws. Ballot proposals that would increase the state’s minimum wage and require employers to offer earned sick time were adopted by the Legislature in September. Now lawmakers have passed bills to limit their impact.

The efforts were met with opposition as protesters filled committee hearings and yelled in the halls of the Capitol. They’re frustrated that an initiative they wanted on the ballot is now being changed – and quickly – by lawmakers that aren’t coming back next year.

Opponents say lawmakers are gutting the proposals. They say people should have been allowed to vote on the measures if the Legislature didn’t like the measures as they were written. 

Susan Hendricks is from Grand Blanc, Michigan.

“This Legislature is deciding things for Michigan without actually talking to any of its people,” she said.

The changes to sick time include requiring more work for time off and exempting small businesses. The minimum wage wouldn’t hit or pass $12 an hour until 2030, and tipped workers would then get $4.58 instead of the original measure’s $12 an hour. 

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) says the changes will be good for businesses.

“I think it’s really important that employers can be confident that they can deliver these benefits to employees and we thought this was important to do it this way,” he says.

Meekhof says he's confident Snyder will sign the bills.

The state House made a few minor changes to the bills that the state Senate signed off on before sending the bills to the governor.

For the paid leave measure, it increased how many hours an employer must offer to 40 hours; the Senate version required 36 hours. The House also lowered how many hours an employee has to work to get an hour of paid leave from 40 hours in the Senate bill to 35 hours. The original measure required 30 hours of work for an hour of paid leave. The final version also allows workers to accrue leave time immediately and begin using it within 90 days.

For minimum wage, the final version has the minimum wage for tipped workers at 38% of the minimum wage, meaning tipped workers would have a minimum wage of $4.58 by 2030. Changes made by the House also have the minimum wage rising to $12.05 an hour by 2030, instead of the Senate version’s of $12.00 an hour. 

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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