Michigan Supreme Court to Consider Request for Advisory Opinion on Paid Medical Leave Law

DMEC StaffLegislative Updates

Michigan Supreme Court to Consider Request for Advisory Opinion on Paid Medical Leave Law

By Michael J. Soltis, Esq.

Paid Sick Leave @Work

The Michigan Supreme Court will wade into the constitutionality of the state’s Paid Medical Leave Act, at least to decide whether to consider the substance of the argument. In response to requests by both legislative chambers for an advisory opinion on the legality of the recently enacted state Paid Sick Leave (PSL) law, the court scheduled a hearing for Jul. 17, 2019. The first of three questions listed in the Court’s Order is whether it should exercise its discretion and issue the requested advisory opinion. In Michigan, a legislative chamber or the governor may ask the Supreme Court to issue an advisory opinion on “important questions of law upon solemn occasions as to the constitutionality of legislation…”

The other two questions for which the Court solicited briefs concern the process-used to enact the PSL. PSL proponents had collected enough signatures to have voters decide in November 2018 whether or not to enact a PSL initiative. The Michigan Constitution gives the legislature the option to enact such an initiative, negating the need for a vote on it. Both legislative chambers, both with GOP majorities, had concerns about the substance of the PSL bill. They decided to enact the voter initiative and then amend it. This strategy was adopted because amending a statute enacted by the legislature requires a majority vote in each legislative chamber while amending a statute enacted by a voter initiative requires a three-fourths vote of each chamber. The urgency to implement this strategy increased in November 2018 when voters elected a Democratic governor who would take office in January 2019 and would likely veto the effort to amend the PSL law.

In late 2018, the legislature enacted the initiative and a few months later amended it. In December 2018, GOP Governor Rick Snyder signed the amended bill.

The Supreme Court has asked the parties to brief whether the legislature may “enact an initiative petition into law and then amend that law during the same legislative session” and whether the PSL and minimum wage laws were enacted in accordance with the constitutional provision concerning voter initiatives.

***This article originally appeared on the Paid Sick Leave @Work site and was reposted on the DMEC website with their permission.***