Michigan Lame Duck Governor Inks Sick Leave Amendment 

Michigan lame duck GOP Governor Rick Snyder on Friday signed into law the bill amending the recently enacted PSL law,  putting the finishing touch on a two-step political ploy to have the legislature craft a PSL bill rather than have voters consider a bill crafted by PSL advocates. For the ploy to succeed, Governor Snyder needed to sign the bill before  December 31, his last day in office.  Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, takes office on January 1.

The legislature took the first step of the stratagem on September 5, 2018, when it passed the Earned Sick Time Act, which was slated to be presented to voters in November.  The second step was to amend that law, which it did within the past few weeks. The amendment renames the PSL bill the Paid Medical Leave Act.

The stratagem represents a classic illustration of Miles’ Law which, in brief, states that ‘where you stand depends on where you sit.’ (see further discussion of Miles’ Law here). PSL proponents have accused the legislature of gutting the Earned Sick Leave Law and undermining democracy, or worse. They have threatened to challenge in court the legislature’s authority to amend the initial law.  Proponents of the ploy argue that the Earned Sick Leave Law did not adequately consider or balance the interests of all constituencies, small business in particular and that the Paid Medical Leave Act does so.

The Paid Medical Leave Act makes many changes to the Earned Sick Time Act. Generally, by narrowing the definitions of employer, employee and family member, it reduces the number of employee eligible for the PSL benefit, which it also reduced.

Michigan is the eleventh state to enact a paid sick leave law.