Mich. panel votes to scale back minimum wage, sick time laws

- Michigan's Republican-led Legislature began voting Wednesday to substantially scale back citizen-initiated minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, making changes requested by a business lobby that criticized the new requirements as expensive and burdensome.

The Senate Government Operations Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to advance two bills to the full Senate, which was expected to vote on them later Wednesday. 

One measure would delay increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour to at least 2030, instead of 2022, and repeal provisions to tie future increases to inflation and bring a lower wage for tipped employees in line with the wage for other workers. The current minimum wage is $9.25.

Another bill would let employers limit the amount of paid medical leave to 36 hours a year, instead of up to 72 hours for many businesses as required under the existing law that is scheduled to go into effect in March. 

To prevent the citizen initiatives from going to voters earlier this month, where they would be much harder to change if they passed, Republican legislators preemptively passed them in September so that they could alter them after the election with simple majority votes in each chamber.

Since approval of the 1963 state constitution, legislators have adopted seven citizen initiatives but amended just one -- and it was not in the same legislative session. Democrats and backers of the ballot drives say making the changes this year, before Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer takes office, would be unconstitutional and would lead to lawsuits.

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