Michigan high court to hear challenge to rule that weakened state's minimum wage rule

The Michigan Supreme Court agreed to take up a case that could have a major impact on the state's minimum wage, raising the hourly rate by several dollars.

The case deals with whether the state legislature's decision in 2018 to enact and amend a ballot proposal dealing with raising the minimum wage was unconstitutional. Restaurants and other businesses worry that raising the wage could make it untenable for small businesses to operate.

Under the original petition, the minimum wage would be raised to $12 an hour, including for service employees that receive tips. It would also set rates for accumulated sick time. But before the proposal was added to the ballot for the 2018 election, the Republican-led legislature passed a related bill and then drastically weakened the law's rules. 

The updated wages would come to $13.03 for hourly workers and $11.73 for tipped workers. 

The court said Wednesday it would hear arguments about whether the legislature's decision was constitutional.

In its order, the court wrote "The application for leave to appeal is GRANTED."

A date for arguments has not been set.

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A lawsuit challenging the adopt-and-amend-strategy was first granted in July 2022 when a Court of Claims judge ruled it unconstitutional. In February, a Court of Appeals ruling blocked the decision, saying the strategy was allowed to be used. 

The plaintiffs on the lawsuit include Mother Justice, Michigan One Fair Wage, Michigan Time to Care, Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan, as well as two residents. 

The service sector industry has previously expressed concern that if the wage hikes go into effect, it could devastate some businesses. According to surveys conducted by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, businesses would most likely raise their prices while layoffs could follow.