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Senate hears proposal changing minimum wage requirements for private schools


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate Government Reform Committee heard legislation this week that would exempt private schools from a minimum wage increase.

HB 763, sponsored by Rep. Tim Remole, would exempt private and religious schools from increasing the minimum wage as required by the passage of the initiative ballot last year. Remole told the committee Tuesday public schools are already exempt from this law, and this legislation would just provide the same opportunity to private schools.

State Rep. Tim Remole

Remole said he’s spoken to many people in his district, and the vast majority were not even aware the ballot measure exempted public schools from the wage increase.

No one spoke in support of HB 763 during the hearing because of the short notice of the scheduled committee meeting, Remole said. However, a lobbyist representing the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a nonprofit social welfare program, did address the committee in opposition to the bill.

“We believe each exemption undermines the voters’ will” who voted for the increased minimum wage in November, he said. “We would urge the legislature to use caution when carving out an exemption.”

The proposal passed out of the Missouri House with a 92-51 vote. It will be up to the Government Reform Committee to vote on the bill before it can be sent to the full Senate.

Earlier this year, Senate Democrats blocked a bill seeking to change how the minimum wage would be applied to employees under the age of 18. Sen. Mike Cunningham’s bill would allow employers to be only required to pay those employees — dubbed “minor employees” — just 85 percent of the set minimum wage.

Additionally, the bill, SB 10, would freeze the amount tipped employees make. It stipulates those employees should receive no less than 50 percent of the minimum wage rate set as of Jan. 1, 2019.

After fierce opposition from Democrats — who called it an “anti-worker bill” antithetical to the will of Missouri voters — the Senate hit pause on moving the bill forward in March. It could be taken up again, however.

Missouri voters approved a gradual yearly minimum wage increase in the November 2018 elections, raising it from $7.85 to $8.60 an hour in 2019. By 2023, the minimum wage will be set at $12.