Michigan GOP effort to stop raising minimum wage proves democracy is only for the rich & well-connected, not you


As I have written about before, Republicans are petrified of a drive to put raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on the ballot in November. It’s such a winning issue for Democrats that Republicans know that they simply must kill it or risk losing big on election day as more Democrats than usual turn out to vote in the midterm election.

The first effort to kill it came from Senator Rick Jones who introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $8.15 an hour for average workers and a mere ten cents an hour for waiters and waitresses. For a full-time waiter, that would be a whopping $4 a week before taxes.

Next came Senate Republican Leader Randy Richardville’s bill — S.B. 934 — which also raised the minimum wage to $8.15 an hour but gave waiters and waitresses a full 28 cents an hour raise. The increase in minimum wage from its current $7.40 to $8.15 an hour represents a raise of only $30 per week before taxes.

Richardville’s legislation is on the schedule in the Senate today. He is quite clear as to why he has proposed this legislation: to kill a citizen-initiated referendum. Here are some tweets Gongwer News Service put out when his legislation was introduced:

Yesterday, Tim Skubick got it directly from Richardville himself:

Tim Skubick: You would like to kill the ballot proposal so you can negotiate a deal with lawmakers on raising the minimum wage?
Senator Richardville: Yeah, I think that’s fair.
Skubick: Will it work?
Richardville: I think so and I think you’ll see we’ll move quickly on it.

Here is the video:

It’s a disgusting attempt to override the will of the voters. The Raise the Wage ballot initiative is an indirect initiated state statute, just like the ballot initiative that forced-birthers used to create Michigan’s “rape insurance” law. An indirect initiated state statue has the following characteristics (via BallotPedia):

  1. It is citizen-initiated, through the collection of signatures.
  2. Once the signatures are collected, the proposed law is sent to that state’s state legislature.
  3. Depending on the specific laws in that state, the state legislature typically can either choose:
  • Not to act on the measure at all, in which case the measure is placed on the state’s statewide ballot and the voters decide its fate.
  • To pass the law as written by the group that initiated it.
  • To amend and then pass the law
  • To come up with a law of its own addressing the same subject as the citizen-initiated measure and place that law on the ballot along with the citizen-initiated measure, allowing the state’s voters to choose the version they prefer.

In Michigan, only the first and second options are available. The number of signatures required is 8% of the number of votes for governor in the previous gubernatorial election.

Details HERE.

If the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures the state legislature has 40 session days to adopt or reject the proposal. If the legislature rejects the law, then the measure is placed on the next general election ballot.

When the force-birthers obtained enough signatures for their “rape insurance” law, Republicans lauded it as the will of the people being heard through a lawful exercise of their democratic rights. Now that Michigan citizens are using the same technique to pull working poor Michiganders out of poverty, Republicans are no longer interested in our rules, laws, or the democratic process and they are using their majorities in both chambers of the legislature to ensure that they get their way.

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer put it plainly:

My colleagues like to cloak themselves in the flag and preach about constitutional rights and then they trample on them as soon as someone pursues their constitutional right to get an issue on the ballot and undermine that effort.

Michigan Republicans are hypocrites, plain and simple. When Michiganders tried to put wolf hunting on the ballot, the Republicans used their majority to squash it. When Michigander rejected our anti-democratic Emergency Manager law, Republicans used their majority to reverse it. If you needed any further proof that Republicans are hypocrites who are drunk with power, their efforts to stop the minimum wage ballot initiative is it. Democracy is only for their wealthy corporatist benefactors, not for average Michiganders.

If you’re not pissed off, you are simply not paying attention.

  • judyms9

    Of the many important things you’ve written about the governor and GOP legislature this year, Chris, this is the one that needs to be most widely distributed both now and in the near future so the electorate can see the full scheming and double dealing that their legislators have been up to in order to ignore them and to keep their 1% handlers comfortable.
    If nothing else, the electorate needs to be reminded of that singular piece of economic wisdom implemented by Henry Ford: Pay your labor force enough to allow them to buy your product. He DOUBLED his workers pay in one stroke of his pen.

  • Patti

    They are despicable in their arrogance. They will only listen to Devos, Koch, and the Mackinac Center loons. We will GOTV and send Slimeyville and Bolger and especially Snyder home because they are too drunk on their own sleazy power to do what is in the best interest of ALL of Michigan – not just the 1%. Vote Blue 2014.

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