JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Both Kansas City and St. Louis are looking to preempt a state law that sits on the governor’s desk for signature, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has written senate colleagues that the cities cannot raise minimum wage above the state level, even without the new law.
HB 722 has been pointed to as a bill that will prevent municipalities from raising minimum wage beyond the state level – as well as prevent municipalities from enacting a plastic bag ban, prompting St. Louis and Kansas City to quickly consider raising the minimum wage within the city. Schaefer says laws already on the books prevent minimum wage preemption, pointing to Section 67.1571, Section 71.010. and Section 290.502 RSMo.
“While the legislature passed House Bill 722 this year to reinforce the legislative intent on minimum wage, the prohibition on St. Louis and Kansas City from passing higher than state minimum wage ordinances is not contingent on HB 722 becoming effective on August 28,” Schaefer wrote. “As stated above, cities are already prohibited under existing law from requiring employers to pay higher than state-set minimum wages.”
Schaefer also points to a letter from Kansas City’s city attorney William D. Geary, who submitted a memo to the mayor and city council concluding the city did not have authority to exceed minimum wage.
The senator and candidate for attorney general continued to try his case that increased minimum wages in the cities would greatly harm the state overall, calling for the General Assembly to take immediate action to eliminate the 1% earnings tax imposed in the cities if the cities raise the minimum wage, saying it would be “the only way employers will have the money to pay those wages.”
“If we want our cities and our State to thrive and grow, we must stop penalizing productivity through duplicate and burdensome taxes and higher costs,” Schaefer concluded. “Together, through common-sense reforms, we can prevent misguided policies in St. Louis and Kansas City from forcing businesses and taxpayers out of the state.”
However, activists are supporting municipalities who are trying to move closer to higher wages.
Read the full letter here: Local Ordinances to Raise Minimum Wage June 2015
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.