All three of Livingston County’s representatives in the Michigan Legislature voted with their GOP colleagues late Tuesday to delay a minimum wage hike and scale back paid sick leave requirements.

Lana Theis of Brighton Township and Hank Vaupel of Handy Township were among 60 Republicans in the State House to push through the unprecedented lame-duck legislation that was fast-tracked and drew protesters to the Capitol. State Senator Joe Hune of Fowlerville also joined with his 25 GOP colleagues in the upper chamber to pass the bills.

Changes were made at the request of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who stayed mum on whether he will sign the measures despite Senate leaders saying they expect him to do so. The business community supports delaying the boost in the minimum wage to $12.05 until at least 2030 and limiting paid sick time requirements to employers with 50 or more workers. Opponents say the move is illegal and an insult to voters. To prevent minimum wage and paid sick time ballot initiatives from going to the electorate last month, after which they would have been much harder to change if voters had passed them, GOP legislators — at the behest of business groups — preemptively approved them in September so that they could alter them after the election with simple majority votes in each chamber.

One bill would gradually increase the state's $9.25 minimum wage to $12.05 an hour by 2030 — maybe later in the case of a recession — instead of $12 by 2022. It would also repeal provisions to tie future increases to inflation and bring a lower wage for tipped employees in line with the wage for other workers. Another bill would exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees from having to provide paid sick time as required under the existing law that is scheduled to take effect in March. It also would limit the amount of annual mandatory leave at larger businesses to 40 hours, instead of 72 hours, and other changes. About 162,000 small businesses that collectively employ 1 million workers would be exempt from awarding paid sick leave under the legislation, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Democrats said the bills betrayed and ignored “the will of the people” while Republicans defended the votes as helping businesses and in fact, the move was backed by several state business groups including the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. If Snyder signs the bills, lawsuits are likely. Paid sick leave advocates have already vowed to launch a 2020 ballot drive if the Legislature successfully guts the law that made Michigan the 11th state to require employers to provide paid time off to workers who are sick or who have ill family members. (JK)