Michigan Minimum Wage Fails to Qualify

Mon, Jul 28 2014 by Neal Hobson

Michigan’s State Board of Canvassers voted not to certify an initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage for placement on this November’s election ballot.

The group Raise Michigan turned in 318,425 signatures on petitions, needing 258,088 to be verified as those of registered voters in the Wolverine State.  The group just edged over that goal under the scrutiny of the Secretary of State’s office with 259,756 verified signatures, just 1,578 more than necessary.

An opposition group, People Protecting Michigan Jobs, filed a timely challenge of the petition, but submitted evidence of additional invalid signatures several days after the deadline for challenges. Despite the lateness, however, the State Board of Canvassers voted 3-1 to invalidate the initiative petition, with two appointed Republican members and one of the two Democratic appointees siding with opponents.

Members of the Board of Canvassers offered different opinions for their decision to disqualify the petition.

“I want to keep the fraudulent signatures out of the mix,” Board Chairwoman Colleen Pero said. “I can’t stand to allow us to move forward with fraudulent signatures.”

The lone dissenting board member, Julie Matuzak, thought differently of the situation, “We set up a procedure that you have 10 days to turn in a challenge,” she said. “We had a deadline and I think deadlines mean something.”

Raise Michigan is considering an appeal.

The issue is further complicated because, just before the petition deadline, the Michigan Legislature passed its own minimum wage increase, repealing the older law that the Raise Michigan petition sought to amend.

“There is no longer a law to amend,” said Matthew Schneider of the state Attorney General’s Office. “What happened months ago (when the form of the petitions was approved by the board) doesn’t apply anymore. There is no longer a law.”