Michigan $15 minimum wage hike won’t make 2024 ballot, Supreme Court rules

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“It was abundantly reasonable for the Board to conclude that plaintiff failed to obtain pre-approval of an accurate statement of the petition submitted for final approval, which, rather than increasing the minimum wage for all employees, may have served to eliminate it for thousands,” wrote Zahra, one of three Republican nominees on the seven-member court. 

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Mark Brewer, the attorney representing Raise the Wage Michigan, declined to comment immediately on Friday, saying he’d yet to review the court’s decision.

But news of the decision was quickly met with relief from some in the hospitality industry, such as Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association President Justin Winslow, who opposed the proposal because it would have also eliminated a lower “tipped wage” for some workers. 

The industry is still operating “in the long shadow” of a separate lawsuit over legislative modifications to an earlier minimum wage proposal, but “this ruling will provide some solace to the nearly 500,000 industry employees and nearly 20,000 operators that they can return their focus to serving up Pure Michigan hospitality to millions of Michiganders every day,” Winslow said in a statement

The Michigan Supreme Court is still considering whether the 2018 Republican-led Legislature violated the state Constitution by adopting and then quickly weakening separate minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives to keep them off the ballot that year. Justices could rule on that case soon.

The 2024 ballot proposal would have raised Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 by 2027, amending a state law that currently requires the rate increase to $12 an hour by 2030. It also would have phased out Michigan’s current $3.84 per hour tipped wage and required servers to make minimum wage by 2028.

Canvassers deadlocked over the group’s petition signatures last fall after Raise the Wage made changes to its petitions after seeking initial approval to circulate them. 

Tony Daunt, one of the board’s two Republican canvassers who voted against certifying the petition, said Friday he was “confident at the time” and remains confident “that we made the right decision.”

“I think we’re vindicated in standing by our principle of ‘this was a material error and should not have received certification’,” Daunt said.

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