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Rep. Shaul defends plastic bag, minimum wage bill


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A litany of opposition to HB 722 has risen around the state, from mayors to the Kansas City Council to Democratic lawmakers to minimum wage hike proponents and even the president of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. All of them argue the legislation, which prevents cities, towns and other municipalities in the state from banning plastic bags or hiking the minimum wage up past the state minimum, would take away local control, stifling a town or city’s ability to regulate itself in these matters.

Even Rep. Linda Black, R-Park Hills, who voted for the legislation in May, sounded as though her position had changed on the matter in an interview on KREI Thursday.

“This is in my opinion a bill of local control,” she said. “If a community has a problem with a lot of littering or plastic blowing and those types of things they decide to curtail plastic being available int heir places of business, a local community should have that… right, and this bill would take that away.”

However, the sponsor of the bill, freshman Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, arguing that restricting the rights of businesses was the real removal of control.

“There are things that local municipalities can do to benefit their communities,” he said. “There’s a whole list of things that fit in that, but I don’t think prohibiting retailers from using a plastic bag is anything anyone should be restricting. It gives ultimate local control to their consumers.”

He added that this bill would essentially set up a democracy of dollars with people “voting” for what kinds of things they want from local businesses with their wallets. If people want to buy plastic bags or shop in places that pay above the minimum wage, they should be able to do so. The state he says has a responsibility to ensure its overall well being, saying the minimum wage and plastic bag issues set a standard the entire state should follow to avoid inequalities between certain regions.

“Both of them are about preemption, and I think it ensures the decisions are made inside the state are made for the benefit of the state to allow us to continue to thrive,” Shaul said. “I don’t necessarily see why we need to have local municipalities playing volleyball with the minimum wage. Let them run their businesses and let consumers make their choices.”

The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon in July, and Majority Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot says it has a good chance of being one of the dozen or so bills the Republican supermajority will likely try to override during next week’s veto session.

“It had 105 votes in the regular session, and we had seven Republican members absent, so I think it’s got a chance,” he said.

Cierpiot added the House and Senate leadership had not yet made final decisions on what pieces of legislation to try to pass, but that he saw 10 or 11 bills Republicans would attempt to override during Wednesday’s session. It was in the senate that language was added to Shaul’s bill that included the minimum wage restrictions, an amendment that drew heavy criticism from Democrats.