LANSING, Mich. (MIRS News) – The Michigan Supreme Court agreed Wednesday morning to hear arguments on whether the Legislature can adopt a citizens’ initiative and then amend it in the same session.
The court ordered the parties in Mothering Justice v. Attorney General to address whether the Legislature violated Article 2, Section 9 of the state Constitution when it enacted Public Acts 337 and 338 in 2018 – minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives – and significantly altered those in the same legislative session.
The court also said it would examine how, and if, those laws would remain in effect.
A date for oral arguments has not been set, but it would be no earlier than October when the court’s 2023-24 session begins.
Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the organization is “surprised” by the court’s decision to hear arguments “given the thorough and unanimous decision” from the Michigan Court of Appeals.
“We are committed to defending the integrity and solvency of the restaurant industry, which remains perilously stuck in the middle of a legal argument over legislative authority, not restaurant operations,” he said in a statement.
In January, the Michigan Court of Appeals held the then-Republican led Legislature’s adopt-and-amend action was constitutional – a ruling that reversed a Court of Claims’ judge’s holding that the Legislature acted unconstitutionally.
Michigan’s current minimum wage increased Jan. 1 from $9.87 an hour to $10.10 an hour while tipped employees’ minimum wage is $3.84 per hour.
Michigan One Fair Wage circulated the petitions in 2018 to have voters consider a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022 and tie the rate to inflation while Michigan Time to Care backed a proposal requiring all employers to provide paid sick time to workers.
The initiatives, however, did not see a statewide vote as the Legislature adopted the two initiatives first and then moved after Election Day to change the laws with a simple majority.
Had the initiatives gone to a statewide vote, any future change would have required three-fourths super majority support.
Winslow said if the Supreme Court rules against the Legislature’s actions, restaurant operators “would immediately experience more than 200% labor cost inflation at a time when their recovery remains tenuous and the median wage for tipped employees currently exceeds $27 per hour.”
Winslow added: “The inevitable result would be instantaneous menu price increases, significant layoffs and more restaurant closures.”