A Michigan appeals court Wednesday ordered that a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage be placed on the November ballot.
The 2-1 decision from a panel of Michigan Court of Appeals judges said the ballot proposal is not unconstitutional, rejecting a legal challenge brought by opponents, including the hospitality industry. Those opponents must now weigh whether to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Michigan One Fair Wage ballot proposal would change state law to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 in 2019 and $12 by 2022. That wage rate would apply to restaurant workers and other employees who receive tips, who today are paid below minimum wage.
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The appeals court ordered state elections officials and the Board of State Canvassers “to take all necessary measures to place the proposal on the November 2018 general election ballot.” State canvassers deadlocked in July along party lines on whether to certify the proposal for the ballot.
"We think the Court of Appeals made the correct decision,” said Mark Brewer, an attorney for the ballot committee backing the proposal, Michigan One Fair Wage, when reached by phone Wednesday.
Opponents said they are disappointed in the ruling and may appeal it to the Michigan Supreme Court.
"While we respect the diligence taken by the Court of Appeals panel, we still firmly believe that the Michigan One Fair Wage petition is misleading and lacks the transparency required by the Michigan constitution, rendering it ineligible for the ballot,” said Justin Winslow in a statement. He is spokesman for a ballot committee called Michigan Opportunity and president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association.
Lawyers for Michigan Opportunity contend the proposal is ineligible for the ballot because its language refers to the law that would be changed only by its title, rather than by reprinting the entire law highlighting what changes would be made — which they argued was unconstitutional.
Brewer countered that the ballot language shows the proposal would “supersede” existing state law.
Appellate Judge Michael Riordan dissented, arguing that the proposal did not clear required signature thresholds to appear on the ballot.