Michigan Chamber urges Supreme Court to Rule on Sick and Minimum Wage Laws

Request in concert with legislative push

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has added its voice to a request that the Michigan Supreme Court consider the constitutionality of legislative amendments made to the mandatory paid sick leave and minimum wage laws enacted in December.

The chamber’s request comes in the wake of resolutions adopted by both chambers of the Legislature to ask the Supreme Court to provide an opinion regarding two questions:

  • Are the Legislature’s amended versions of the paid sick leave and minimum wage laws legal?
  • Is it legal under the Michigan Constitution for the Legislature to adopt citizen-approved initiatives and revise them in the same two-year session?

The Legislature’s action came after state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for a formal opinion on the lawmakers’ lame duck revisions to the initiatives.

Jim Holcomb, executive vice president of the Michigan chamber, said the chamber backs the Legislature in requesting a ruling from the high court.

“We applaud the Legislature for asking the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on this important constitutional question,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Michigan’s employers and employees need certainty regarding the state of the law.

“The Michigan chamber is hopeful that the Supreme Court justices will undertake the requested review and bring clarity to the state of the law,” Holcomb continued. “By rendering their opinion on the constitutionality of the minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave statutes, the Supreme Court will avoid a much longer legal process that is fraught with unnecessary confusion and political rhetoric.”

Wendy Block, the chamber’s vice president of business advocacy, said only courts have the ability to declare a law unconstitutional, noting that the attorney general opinions are binding on state agencies and officers in the absence of a high-court ruling.

“We agree with lawmakers that the Michigan Supreme Court should weigh in on this issue sooner than later to give employers and employees certainty prior to the March 29 effective date and to avoid a protracted legal battle,” Block said. “We are hopeful the Michigan Supreme Court recognizes the current level of uncertainty on these issues and will issue an opinion in this important and precedent-setting issue.”

Under the revisions by the Legislature, Michigan’s minimum wage will increase from $9.25 to $12.05 per hour by 2030 as opposed to the $12 benchmark by 2022 called for in the original initiative. The wages for tipped restaurant workers will rise to $4.58 per hour by 2030 instead of the citizen-approved $12 by 2024.

The paid sick leave law exempts more than 160,000 small businesses employing a total of more than 1 million workers from a sick leave mandate that would have applied to every company in Michigan.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is a statewide business organization representing some 6,000 employers, trade associations and local chambers of commerce who employ more than 1 million residents.

 

 

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