"Death Star" Bill Prohibits Townships, Local Governments from Mandating Wages

LANSING - When you hear the words death star, you most likely think of Darth Vader and Star Wars, but a bill nicknamed the "Death Star" bill that was recently signed into law has nothing to do with outer space.

This new law, House Bill 4052, prohibits local governments from requiring businesses to pay a wage higher than the state minimum wage. Republican State Representative Earl Poleski sponsored the bill.

"The motivation behind this bill is that when businesses are looking to invest and hire, they want a consistent and predictable set of rules," Poleski, representative for Michigan's 64th District said. "This way, they can simply look to state and federal laws."

Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie says she disagrees with the new law, but says it won't affect the township at this point.

"We don't have any wage or hour-type limitations right now," Brixie said. "I think this does have the potential to impact larger cities in the state."

This new law does not affect ordinances that were in place before the end of 2014, however they may not be amended. 23rd District State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D), says this could be a concern down the road.

"Times change. Things change," Hertel said. "We have a living ordinance in Ingham County, and 30 years from now, that's probably not a living wage any longer that we put in that ordinance. But, unfortunately, we probably will not be able to amend it again."

And he calls it a case of government overreach.

"If you read the Republicans' platform, it says the best government is that that is closest to the people," Hertel said. "They just un-did all these laws across the state, so i think they're being hypocritical."

Poleski responded to that criticism.

"I am in favor of less government, and this is a less government bill," he said. "This prohibits governments from controlling what businesses do in their area."

Another important thing to note about that bill is it does not prohibit local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances. This means Meridian Township can amend their ordinance that they passed last year if needed.

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