Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 15, 2014

Editorial: Minimum wage bill strips voters' rights

Michigan Republicans have long opposed raising the minimum wage. Until last week, anyway.

Out of the blue, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville introduced a bill to repeal the state’s Minimum Wage Act and at the same time raise the minimum from the current $7.40 an hour to $8.15, a 10 percent increase.

Richardville’s fellow Republicans — who control both the House and Senate — liked the bill so much they immediately moved it to the floor of the Senate, bypassing the standard committee process.

We’ve seen these gymnastics before. The last time was when the Legislature rammed through right to work legislation — with no hearings in either chamber and zero chance for citizens to express an opinion. Gov. Rick Snyder, who just days before had said right-to-work legislation wasn’t on his radar, immediately signed the bills into law.

It was a low point in what passes for lawmaking in this state, and now they’re at it again.

The goal this time around was to scuttle a petition process that was certain to put a proposal to raise the minimum wage to just over $10 a hour on the November ballot.

Since polls show that about 60 percent of state voters back that plan, Republicans knew the only way they could prevail was to strip voters of their constitutional right to cast a ballot. So they did.

Richardville’s bill is part of a complicated effort to make any decision by voters meaningless.

The GOP bill would boost Michigan’s $7.40 minimum wage 10 percent to $8.15 an hour by Sept. 1 but would also repeal Michigan’s Minimum Wage Law of 1964. That would make the ballot drive moot, since it would amend the Minimum Wage Law — which would no longer exist.

The ballot proposal would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a 37 percent increase when it fully takes effect in January 2017.

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