MI Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Chamber-Supported Paid Sick Leave, Minimum Wage Laws

July 15, 2019

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear oral arguments later this week on the constitutionality of Chamber-supported changes to the paid sick leave and minimum wage ballot proposals made last year. The court will hold oral arguments on the issue on July 17, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. The oral arguments will be broadcast online

Among other items, the Court will consider:

  1. Whether the Court should exercise its discretion to grant the Michigan Legislature’s request to issue an advisory opinion in this matter;
  2. Whether Article 2, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 permits the Legislature to adopt an initiative petition into law and then subsequently amend that law during the same legislative session; and
  3. Whether Public Act 368 of 2018 and Public Act 369 of 2018 (the minimum wage and paid sick leave laws) were enacted in compliance with Article 2, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963. 

The Michigan Chamber, along with the Small Business for a Better Michigan coalition, filed an amicus brief in support of the Court issuing an advisory opinion and the Legislature’s actions in accordance with the Michigan Constitution. The Michigan House and Senate also filed briefs in support. The Supreme Court asked the Attorney General to brief both sides of the issue.

Briefs in opposition were filed by Governor Whitmer; House Minority Leader Christine Greig, State Representative Rabhi, and 60 other members of the House and Senate, the Michigan State AFL-CIO, the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council and the Michigan Education Association, among others. 

It is important to note that the Court has not agreed to rule on the issue, only to hear oral arguments. If the Court does not rule, the Attorney General could issue an opinion finding the law to be unconstitutional (thereby directing state agencies to enforce the original ballot proposal language – i.e., a $12 minimum wage by 2022 and a 72-hour mandate that would apply to employers with 50 or more employees and a 40/32 hour paid/unpaid mandate that would apply to employers with less than 10 employees). This action would likely set off a new round of litigation. Similarly, if the Court declines to rule, a case could begin in another forum, such as the Michigan Court of Claims.  Finally, if the Court does rule, and it is an “advisory” opinion, there is a chance that another court could refuse to follow the opinion, triggering further litigation.

While there is no indication of whether the court will ultimately rule on the issue or whether they might rule in favor of the Legislature’s actions, we remain hopeful that the Court will resolve this dispute and settle this legal dispute. We will keep you informed as this issue develops. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Wendy Block at wblock@michamber.com