Minimum Wage Hike May Not Be Left To Voters

"Every time that a citizen group comes forward with an idea that they don't like they undermine it," said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, referring to her Republican colleagues.

Michigan Democrats are pushing back, after a bill proposed by Republicans would scrap the state's current minimum wage law and raise it to $8.15 per hour, with tipped employees getting $2.93 per hour. If that legislation, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, passes it will stop a ballot initiative that is trying to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for all employees.

This is an issue state Democrats say should be left up to voters.

"We have to try to preserve this petition drive," said Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Wayne County. "We've got to try at the same time to get a minimum wage hike though that's meaningful to people."

The state's minimum wage is currently set at $7.40, above the federal minimum of $7.25.

Sen. Rick Jones proposed his own bill earlier in April but says he will support Richardville.

Jones says $8.15 an hour won't harm the economy as much as the $10.10 hike the Raise Michigan coalition is proposing.

"So many people will lose their jobs, some restaurants will close, some restaurants won't survive," said Jones.

A spokeswoman for Richardville says the ballot proposal goes too far and there may be unintended consequences. She says the Senator's plan is a responsible way of raising the minimum wage. She expects to see action on this legislation in the next two weeks.

Danielle Atkinson with Raise Michigan says the group isn't going to give up.

"This is a very important issue that should go before the voters, not be made in backroom conversations," Atkinson said.

The Raise Michigan coalition says they already have the requisite 258,000 signatures to advance the measure. If the Republican legislation goes through they will have to start their fight all over again.


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