Paid Sick Leave on Ballot in Michigan, Likely in San Antonio Also

Michigan voters will likely decide in November whether to adopt a statewide paid sick leave law. The Michigan Board of Canvassers last week certified the initiative petition after concluding that its sponsor had submitted sufficient valid signatures. The initiative’s sponsor is an organization called MI Time to Care. The initiative would create the Earned Sick Time Act. ballot-1294935_640

Now that the initiative is certified, the Michigan legislature could either enact it  and avoid the vote, or propose an alternative that would go on the ballot, according to a local news report. If Michigan enacts a PSL law, it would be the eleventh state to do so and the third state to do so this year.

In San Antonio, the City Council will vote tomorrow whether to certify the results of the petition to initiate an Earned Sick Time ordinance. The City Clerk has recommended that sufficient valid signatures support the petition.  If the City Council accepts that recommendation, it could put the ordinance on the November ballot or enact the proposed ordinance.

My previous past about the Michigan and San Antonio ballot initiatives is here.

As I have noted often, when voters are asked whether they would like more paid time off, it is very likely the initiative will pass. The two exceptions were in Denver (2011) and in Albuquerque (2017).

Meanwhile, in Dallas, PSL proponents are asking for a recount of the signatures they submitted in support of a PSL ordinance. Earlier this month,  city officials said, according to a news report, that the number of valid signatures submitted was 871 signatures fewer than required.

Paid Sick Leave Ballot Initiatives in Michigan and San Antonio

Voters in Michigan and San Antonio (TX) may have the opportunity in November to enact a paid sick leave law.  PSL proponents in both jurisdictions recently submitted what they claim are a sufficient number of valid signatures to support the initiative although neither initiative has yet to be formally certified. As I have posted often, when voters have an opportunity to vote for paid time off, the odds are very high that they will approve that measure.  Voters have rejected more paid time off only twice, in Denver (2011) and Albuquerque (2017).


Michigan is not new to the PSL debate. In 2015, it enacted a preemption law prohibiting local governments from requiring an employer to provide paid or unpaid leave time. Efforts to enact a statewide PSL law through either legislation or a ballot initiative have been unsuccessful. The proposed PSL law which may be on the November 2018 ballot is here.

Pending legal challenges to the recently enacted Austin Earned Sick Time Ordinance will likely affect the San Antonio PSL effort. In April, a cadre of business interests filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin implementation of the Austin ordinance, which is effective October 1, 2018.  They claim that the ordinance is preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act (TMWA) and violates various provisions of the state constitution. The State of Texas has intervened in the case, arguing only that the Ordinance was preempted by the TMWA. A few weeks ago, a workers’ rights organization, a restaurant and an electrician, together, intervened in the case and asked the court to dismiss the challenges to the ordinance.  The San Antonio proposed ordinance is modeled after, if not identical to, the Austin ordinance. My prior posts on this PSL litigation are here and here and here.

Paid Sick Leave Redux in Michigan

A second effort to have Michigan voters decide in November 2018 whether to approve a paid sick time law can move forward. The Board of State Canvassers last week approved the form of an initiative petition submitted by MI Time to Care.  The next step is for proponents to collect the required number of signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.

Michigan is not new to the paid sick leave debate. An effort last year to collect enough signatures to submit the issue to voters was unsuccessful. Earlier this year, bills requiring employers to provide paid sick leave were introduced in both the state Senate (SB 212) and House (HB 4307). Both were referred to committees.

In 2015, Michigan enacted a preemption law. The Local Government Labor Regulatory Limitation Act prohibits a local government from “requiring an employer to provide to an employee paid or unpaid leave time.”

I have posted about the litigation in Albuquerque concerning whether a summary, rather than the full text, is sufficient on the ballot and the fight about the size of the font.  The approved form in Michigan has both a summary and the full text of the proposed law, printed in 8-point Helvetica font.

We continue to wait for State Number Eight to enact a paid sick leave law. The Rhode Island legislature will consider a paid sick leave law when it convenes in mid-September. Maryland Governor Hogan vetoed a paid sick leave bill at the end of the legislative session. The Maryland Legislature may seek to override that veto when it convenes in January 2018.


Nietzsche and Paid Sick Leave

Writing about PSL bills being introduced in legislatures reminds me of the 19th century Prussian philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s cosmological doctrine of eternal recurrence: everything will repeat and recur, forever. Think Groundhog Day.


PSL bills are introduced regularly, sometimes for the second, third or fourth time. Proponents espouse passionately some version of the mantra that an employee should not have to choose between his or her health or family’s health and a paycheck. Opponents argue as passionately that imposing a PSL requirement will lead to job loss, business closures and hurt the very people PSL was intended to help. Advocacy groups do PSL impact studies. Not surprisingly, the study outcomes always support the advocacy group’s position on PSL. And on and on it goes.

With a hat tip to Nietzsche, at least nine PSL bills have been introduced recently in state legislatures. I have already reported here and here on PSL bills in Alaska, Indiana, Maryland and Nevada. Bills have also been introduced in Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Some bill sponsors, those in “trifecta” Republican states especially, must know that their bills have little chance of being enacted but that does not seem to deter them. There is always next session. Eternal recurrence.

In Michigan, Senate Bill No. 212, the “paid sick leave” act, would require all employers other than the federal government, effective January 1, 2018, to allow employees to accrue PSL at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, to a maximum of 40 hours for employees of employers with fewer than ten employees, and 72 hours for employees of employers with at least ten employees. Continue reading