Patchwork? Bring it on!

Added December 5th, 2014 by Peter Ruark | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Peter Ruark

A proposal that would prevent local governments from enacting their own minimum wage, paid leave or unpaid leave ordinances was debated by the House Michigan Competitive Committee Thursday and is expected to be voted on next week. The League supports policies such as paid sick and family leave to help low-wage workers balance family and work.

The word patchwork was bandied about at the hearing on the bill. That word reminds most people of quilts made by their grandmothers, but for some legislators and business group leaders, it apparently brings nightmarish visions of some local areas having ordinances that help workers while others do not.

The cliché we did not hear Thursday was “one size fits all,” which has good connotations when buying baby clothes, but in a legislative committee room means the state tying the hands of local governments. Some believe that is a good thing in this case, as it prevents a “patchwork” of minimum wage and paid leave laws around the state.

Others believe local elected officials should be free to decide what is right for the workers in their communities, with penalty of being defeated in the next election if their constituents disagree.

The useful thing about a patchwork (are we tired of that word yet?) is that communities can be working labs for policies that can eventually be taken to the state level. If several cities and counties in Michigan adopt paid family and sick leave laws and the sky doesn’t fall, voters will be more likely to support taking those worker-friendly policies statewide.

Of course, that may be what those who support the local pre-emption bill are afraid of.

The Michigan League for Public Policy supports the enactment of state laws requiring all workers to have paid family and sick leave. We are probably a long way from seeing such bills signed, but it will be easier if there are similar policies already in place on the local level to show the benefits of these requirements work

So next time you hear someone complain about a patchwork of workplace regulations, just remember that it just might be a stepping stone for some of the good local policies to go statewide.

— Peter Ruark

One Response to “Patchwork? Bring it on!”

  1. […] the contrary, a House committee debated a bill last session going in the opposite direction — to prevent counties, cities and townships from enacting […]

Leave a Reply