Bill banning setting of local minimum wage sparks partisan divide

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.

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Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:52am
Never understood why gov't should have any role in setting wage rates in the private sector. The market and a persons value to the company should set the rate. Lived that way all my life and never had a problem.
Clifford S
Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:45am
Another move by business with their republican marionettes! These republicans in Lansing are complete hypocrites passing more regulations on the people some of which are religious preferences then attaching an appropriation bill which makes it voter impossible to overturn. They all talked about less government, less regulation! What kind of state or for that matter country do we live in that politicians with their powerful money backers want nearly total control over everyday life of it's citizens? There is a huge void in all media reporting on our political system but none on reporting on celebrities or police officers accused of wrong doing!
Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:54am
It is indeed ironic that the Republicans claim to defend personal liberties, yet try to reduce choices available to individuals in the social realm. And now they are trying to reduce our collective choices to use local government to support decent wages, environmental protection, and other initiatives..... greed is bringing the country down.
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 10:25am
You can't support choices of one group, employees, by taking choices away from another group, employers.
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 12:30pm
Government should look to ease the disparity on the economic playing field when one group is exploited by the other. After all, they did outlaw slavery when they took away that choice from slave owners. Based on your logic, should we then simply eliminate the minimum wage? Worker safety protections?
Fri, 09/11/2015 - 10:59am
I agree, I strongly think that wages should be set by the workplace and minimum wage should not be a law therefore you choose your job based on the starting wage.
Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:53pm
Operating a business that covers multiple counties, townships, cities, or other governmental units, each with its own compensation requirements, would be a nightmare.
Robert Kleine
Tue, 05/26/2015 - 1:10pm
Local governments have been allowed for decades to grant tax preferences to business. Any efforts to take this ability away has always been opposed by Republicans, and many Democrats. Now suddenly when locals want to do something to help workers the Republicans do a 180. Isn't it obvious that there only concern is to help business, usually at the expense of the worker. This is hypocrisy of the worst kind.
Tue, 05/26/2015 - 1:34pm
I have worked in construction for 40 years. This was always a bad decision to let local communities set wages. An employee can work 10 hours in one city and 10 in another at a different wage doing the same work. Skill level and market demand set wage levels, not artificial guidelines. Set wages, even prevailing wage, defeats the purpose of free enterprise , cost containment and discourages workers from doing the best they can in order to stay employed and get a raise.
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 9:16am
Reducing the wage individual workers receive reduces the amount of money they have available to spend within their respective communities; creating a negative effect on Michigan's economy both locally and as a whole. By taking wages out of the equation, prevailing wages organize competition around quality, productivity, and efficiency without touching off a “race to the bottom” as contractors underbid one another by lowering the rate of pay earned by their workers. The goal is that, with everyone playing on a level field, contractors seek to maximize their workers' output and their own ability to manage work better than their competition.
Fri, 09/11/2015 - 11:01am
I agree that basically, the more people will concentrate on work if the competitive wages are out of the question. That way people will generate more money anyways if they're working harder. This will result in them getting more pay to put back into the community which is all around a good deal.
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 10:28am
Excellent points, Julie. Common sense.
Fri, 09/11/2015 - 10:58am
I agree that communities should not set wages because it will make things unfair and have unequal pay.
Wed, 05/27/2015 - 10:04pm
How in the heck would local units of government within the state setting higher minimum wage rates or additional benefit requirements for businesses be pro-growth and pro-employment? There is no logic in that at all.
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 9:26am
Current House Republicans are aggressively moving toward the elimination of local government powers - taking power away from local governments in favor of a more socialist (centralized) model here in the State of Michigan. The move regarding minimum wage is the beginning and establishes a precedent for similar bills in the future. Power belongs to the people and should be as local as possible, as much as possible. Local leaders need to push back against the House and protect their own.
Thu, 05/28/2015 - 10:30am
Maybe we could get control down to tribes and be more like Afghanistan or Iraq.