A negotiation could be in the works in Michigan to get a
bill through the Legislature that would prevent some truck drivers and several
other classifications in the state’s workforce from becoming eligible for
overtime pay this fall.
Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, suggested he
could support increasing the Merit Award scholarship and giving a tax credit to
low-income workers if Democrats help tweak a new minimum wage increase, The
Associated Press reported.
Sikkema said he would hold a vote by the end of the month on
a bill that would keep 12 classes of workers – including truck drivers who
receive mileage-based compensation – ineligible for overtime pay when the state’s
new minimum wage is implemented in October.
The effort is in reaction to the Legislature’s decision in
March to boost Michigan’s minimum wage above the federal standard. The decision
means that many employers who had been exempt from paying overtime because the
state’s minimum wage did not exceed the federal standard must now begin paying
That possibility has rankled trucking companies, auto
dealerships and other businesses that say they might be forced to lay off
workers or cut back their hours, The AP reported.
To keep that from happening, Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland,
introduced a bill – HB6213 – to retain the federal exemptions for many jobs
including truckers, nurses, police officers, firefighters and retail
Huizenga’s bill doesn’t have the two-thirds majority support
in the Republican-led Legislature to take immediate effect if Gov. Jennifer
Granholm chooses to sign it. As it stands now, the earliest the exemption
protections could be implemented is March 2007 – seven months after the current
overtime rule takes effect.
In exchange for Democratic votes, Senate Minority Leader Bob
Emerson, D-Flint, said both the Merit Award and tax credits for low-income
workers will be part of the negotiations, The AP reported.
The Senate advanced the efforts from committee this past
week. Sikkema said the efforts are “worthwhile.”