State Democratic lawmakers didn’t waste time firing back against a bill they say would erase local control over economic growth in Michigan’s cities and townships, after local minimum-wage legislation narrowly passed the House last week.
But supporters of a bill to prevent local governments from enacting minimum wage laws insist the legislation provides consistency across the state when it comes to labor costs.
The same day lawmakers approved House Bill 4052, which prevents municipalities from setting local minimum wages or requiring companies doing business within their borders to offer certain benefits, Democrats said the GOP-controlled House engaged in “corporate puppetry” that will make it harder for residents to get ahead in the state’s recovering economy.
Not true, say bill supporters, including business groups and chambers of commerce.
If adopted, the bill would forbid local minimum wages or benefits, such as paid sick leave, that go beyond state or federal law.
“Republicans are supposed to be the party of small government and local control, yet they just voted to prevent local governments from enacting policies to benefit the folks in their own communities,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said in a statement.
Charlie Owens, director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Michigan, said cities and townships have enough priorities on their own without diving into policy questions better left to Lansing and Washington. He testified before the House Commerce and Trade Committee.
Supporters argue that local policies, which can vary from city to city, create a patchwork of regulations that could send the wrong message in a state trying to declare itself open for business.
Democrats say the bills would have broader implications, including negating community-benefit agreements with companies.
This isn’t the only wage-related issue moving through the Legislature. The Senate this month voted 22-15 to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage law, which requires union-scale wages and benefits to be paid on state-financed building projects. It since has gone to the House.
HB 4052 passed the House 57-52 last week and now heads to the Senate.
Comings and goings
Valerie Brader last week started her post as executive director of the new Michigan Agency for Energy. It houses the Michigan Energy Office and Michigan Public Service Commission. Brader, 38, will be Gov. Rick Snyder’s top energy adviser and advise other state departments.