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Published: Saturday, 5/17/2014


Denying democracy

 Richardville Richardville

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R., Monroe) says he believes in democracy — except, evidently, when he fears voters might do something he doesn’t like.

Last month, Mr. Richardville said he was dead set against raising Michigan’s minimum wage from its present $7.40 an hour. But it seems all but certain that a coalition of citizens’ groups will collect enough petition signatures to put a proposal on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Polls show there’s a good chance voters would approve such an issue.

But Mr. Richardville doesn’t intend to let them have their say. He introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage, to $9.20 an hour by 2017 — and repeal, not amend, the old wage law. That gambit would void the ballot proposal, showing contempt for hundreds of thousands of Michiganians who signed petitions. The Senate approved the bill late last week.

Mr. Richardville, a former furniture company executive, concedes he is trying to do that. He thinks raising the minimum wage to $10.10 “could have caused major problems in our economy.” So forget the will of the people.

Such thinking may be popular in North Korea, but it has no place in America. Mr. Richardville has every right to campaign against increasing the minimum wage. But neither he nor anyone else should have the ability to use a cheap parliamentary trick to disfranchise voters who, in good faith, are attempting to exercise their right of referendum.

Mr. Richardville is term-limited. His political career seems likely to end next January. This is not the kind of legacy anyone should want to leave behind.

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