I was speaking with a Democratic state legislator today and they raised an interesting point. If the House passes the bill to hike the state minimum wage that was passed by the Senate last week, unless both chambers give the bill “immediate effect”, it won’t become law until 90 days after the end of the current legislative session which ends in December. If that were the case, the Raise Michigan ballot proposal would still be valid since the law that it affects would still be on the books on Election Day 2014.
The Senate passed S.B. 934 without immediate effect (though they could go back and give it immediate effect if the House sends the bill back to them.) However,
neither chamber has the House doesn’t have the 2/3 Republican majority needed to give a bill immediate effect so the Republicans NEED Democrats to vote with them to do that. I’m guessing they won’t.
There’s certainly no guarantee that the House will pass this bill as Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta at Michigan Radio pointed out quite clearly last week. But, if they do and don’t do it with immediate effect, that could change the entire dynamic.
In the past, Republicans have simply steamrolled over any vote regarding immediate effect. Even when all of the Democrats voted as group against specific legislation, Republicans claimed, based only on a voice vote, that these same Democrats decided to give the bill they just voted against immediate effect. We all remember these images of Democrats desperately calling for a record roll call vote and being completely ignored by Republican legislative leaders:
In fact, as I have pointed out before, Republicans passed over 90% of their bills last year with immediate effect despite lacking bipartisan support for most of them. Here’s what the tally looked like in September of 2013:
It’s “drunk with power” Republican overreach at its finest.
But this time the stakes are MUCH higher. Everybody’s attention is on this issue and media around the state and around the country will be watching like hawks to see if Republicans try to claim they have enough votes to give the minimum wage law immediate effect. Unless significant numbers of Democrats join them in doing so, the law won’t take effect until next year and may be made moot by the ballot proposal in the meantime. Courts give far more favorable rulings on citizen-initiated efforts like this one than they do on legislative efforts to quash citizen involvement.
So, this will be an interesting aspect to watch as this legislation moves forward. First we’ll have to see if the corporatist-dominated House is even willing to pass the bill in the first place. Then we’ll need to see if they have the audacity to claim 2/3 of the House voted for immediate effect if there is evidence that not enough Democrats supported it by ignoring calls for a record roll call vote as they have done in the past (and been allowed to get away with by a Republican-dominated Court of Appeals.)
Pop some popcorn; this is about to get very interesting. In the meantime, the Raise Michigan ballot proposal signature gathering continues apace as well it should. This is Michigan politics and anything can happen.