Rep. Peterson Explains Votes on Minimum Wage, Earned Sick Leave Ballot Initiatives

Friday, September 14, 2018

Yesterday, the Legislature took up two citizen-led ballot initiatives. If the Legislature had not chosen to take up these ballot initiatives, which would increase the minimum wage and guarantee earned paid sick leave for all, respectively, then the proposals would have been on the ballot in November. Because the Legislature voted on these ballot initiatives, they can, at any time, go back to amend each of them as they wish, which would be much more difficult to do if the voters approved each of them in November. In an act of full transparency, I want to make sure you know how I voted on your behalf on each of these initiatives.

Increase to the state minimum wage:

The proposal to increase the minimum wage would enact the “Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act” which would increase the state minimum wage from $9.25 in 2018 to $10 in 2019; $10.65 in 2020; $11.25 in 2021; and $12 in 2022. The proposal would also include an increase in the minimum wage for tipped employees as well, gradually raising it until it matches the state minimum wage in 2024.

Many tipped employees in our community have approached me to indicate their preference for the current minimum wage set-up for tipped employees. That is why I chose to vote in favor of this ballot initiative, in the hopes of working out a compromise later with my colleagues in the Legislature to protect the interests of tipped employees. Ultimately, my goal is to maximize the take-home pay for all working people in our state. If tipped employees in our district insist they are happier relying on tips and are opposed to increasing their minimum wage, then it is not up to me to tell them differently. At the end of the day, I was sent to Lansing to represent YOU. I do all I can to thoughtfully protect your paychecks, and after careful deliberation, I believe this vote was in the best interests of you, my constituents.

Earned paid sick leave for all:

The second proposal we voted on would enact the “Earned Sick Time Act” to allow workers to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. I have long advocated in favor of earned paid sick leave for families throughout Michigan — no one should be forced to choose between taking care of themselves or a sick loved one and sacrificing their paycheck. That is why I co-sponsored House Bill 4307 last year to guarantee earned paid sick leave for all.

Unfortunately, because we voted on a ballot initiative to guarantee earned paid sick leave, and the Legislature could go back later to weaken the effects of the proposal, I chose to vote against it. I believe this is a critically important issue, and I do not think it should be up to the Legislature to prevent the people from voting on the issue — which hundreds of thousands of Michiganders signed on in favor of — only for this body to go back later and water it down. Despite my no vote, this proposal passed out of the Legislature yesterday. Know that I will do all I can to protect the spirit of this initiative to ensure all working people have earned paid sick time and will fight against any effort to gut it down the road.