UPDATE: Michigan panel OKs scaling back minimum wage, sick time laws

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - “We are here today to call on lawmakers to uphold the constitution during lame duck by voting “No” on Senate Bill 1171, which will revoke the raises earned by Michigan’s tipped and minimum wage workers,” said Pete Vargas, Michigan One Fair Wage campaign manager. “Adopting the One Fair Wage proposal only to later gut it in lame duck is blatantly unconstitutional and will lead to costly time-consuming court challenges. Regardless of one’s feelings on raising the minimum wage, we expect all our elected leaders to uphold the constitution and preserve the rule of law at all times.”

At 11 a.m. at the State Capitol, One Fair Wage held a rally to urge these lawmakers to vote no on the Senate Bill and revoke the raise Michigan's tipped workers just earned.

Pete Vargas is the Michigan One Fair Wage Campaign Manager.

He says that gutting the One Fair Wage proposal is an illegal move and "blatantly unconstitutional."

"Michigan One Fair Wage is on a mission to make sure Michigan's tipped workers earn a fair wage that will help lift them out of poverty," Vargas said in a statement describing the group. "One Fair Wage would gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022 and raise tipped worker wages to $12 an hour by 2024."

The bills advancing in Michigan's Republican-controlled Legislature would scale back new citizen-initiated laws to raise the minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick leave.

The Senate Government Operations Committee passed the legislation 3-2, along party lines, Wednesday.

One bill would keep intact what eventually will be a $12 minimum hourly wage but remove a provision that raises the minimum for tipped employees to the level for other workers.

Another bill would significantly change pending paid sick day requirements, reducing the number of hours from 72 to 36 annually.

Legislators passed the ballot initiatives in September rather than let them go to the ballot, making it easier to amend them now.

Lawmakers have enacted citizen initiatives seven times in the last 55 years but have never substantially scaled one back.

“Gutting this proposal after adopting it is a cynical ploy to undermine the will of the 400,000 Michiganders who signed the One Fair Wage petition to support increasing the minimum wage,” said Dr. Alicia Renee Farris, Michigan One Fair Wage Steering Committee Chair. “We followed the laws and rules of the state and collected enough signatures, only to have lawmakers adopt the proposal with the aim of gutting it in lame duck. This illegal move subverts the democratic process and is just plain wrong.”

The group states that our state constitution allows citizens to address issues when the Legislature fails to act. They also said that the proposal should have been on the November ballot but instead lawmakers adopted it only to later gut it.

"Gutting this proposal in lame-duck session is illegal and smacks of dirty politics,” said Joel Panozzo, owner of The Lunch Room in Ann Arbor.