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GOP Senator Proposes Raising Michigan Minimum Wage To $8.15

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LANSING (AP) - A Republican lawmaker on Thursday proposed raising Michigan’s minimum wage by a smaller amount than what is being backed by organizers of a ballot drive, warning that their attempt to give workers who rely on tips the same base wage as everyone else would force restaurants to close.

The bill, brought by Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, would increase the hourly minimum to $8.15 from $7.40 in December. The minimum for tipped employees – wait staff and bartenders – would rise a dime to $2.75 per hour.

That contrasts with Raise Michigan’s call to gradually boost the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, including for tipped workers. State law requires businesses to ensure tipped employees make at least the $7.40 hourly minimum wage.

“I think this will depend on whether or not the governor wants to go forward,” Jones said of his legislation. “But I’m deeply concerned about the waiters and waitresses and all the jobs that will be lost for a lot of good friends.”

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who has said increasing the minimum wage could have negative consequences, said he had not had a chance to review Jones’ proposal.

“The governor has focused on preparing students to graduate with in-demand skills that will allow them to land higher-paying jobs,” spokesman Dave Murray said.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said he opposes Jones’ plan even though many in the business community are supporting it. Yet Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, whose legislation to gradually raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016 is stalled, called it “progress.”

Unions, community organizers and other groups are trying to gather roughly 258,000 valid voter signatures by late May to put their minimum wage proposal before the GOP-led Legislature this election year. Assuming legislators do nothing, the measure would head to a statewide vote in November.

Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift called Jones’ bill “an insult to thousands of Michigan workers who are struggling to get by. This proposal is not adequate to lift families out of poverty, and it is intended to stifle any serious attempt to raise wages.”

The last time legislators approved a minimum wage increase, in 2006, Republican leaders struck a deal with then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, after it became apparent a ballot proposal had significant voter support and was likely to pass if it got on the ballot.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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