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Raise Michigan throws in the towel


Raise MichiganMichigan Capitol Press Report


Raise Michigan announced Aug. 1, it would not pursue any legal challenge to get its minimum wage initiative on the ballot, meaning the end to get voters to approve a raise to $10.10 this November.


The Board of State Canvassers (BSC) opted to not certify the minimum wage petition after the board accepted a last-minute challenge from a restaurant-backed group that revealed Raise Michigan didn’t have enough valid signatures.


In a statement, Raise Michigan spokesperson Frank Houston criticized the restaurants and the BSC, but also took credit for the Legislature’s approval of a smaller minimum wage increase to $9.25.


The law passed by the Legislature repealed the previous minimum wage law and replaced it with a new one, leading many to believe it essentially would’ve invalidated the Raise Michigan initiative, because it was amending the previous law that had been repealed.


“Despite the unprecedented rule changes by the Board of Canvassers, we have determined our efforts to ensure that everyone who works full-time makes a decent wage are better fought outside of the courtroom,” Houston said in a statement. “From the beginning of our campaign, we faced numerous attacks from restaurant industry lobbyists and legislative leaders hell bent on defeating us — not at the ballot box, but by any means necessary.”


Attorney Bob Labrant, who was helping the restaurants, said he wasn’t terribly surprised by the decision, considering the 3-1 vote at the Canvassers level.


“This would have been a slam dunk for us if they wanted to litigate this at the Court of Appeals,” he said.


The problem with going to court is Raise Michigan will need to win twice. First, it needs to convince the Court of Appeals the Secretary of State shouldn’t have been allowed to consider the late challenge from the restaurant association or that the Bureau of Elections didn’t do its math right in ruling that the proper number of signature weren’t there. 


And if that hurdle is cleared, the $10.10-an-hour folks need to convince a judge that the law signed earlier this summer that sets a new $9.25-an-hour law doesn’t negate the ballot proposal, even though the law Raise Michigan wants to amend was repealed. 


To win this second point, it will need to rely on a legal ruling from more than 100 years ago.


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