City fights state bill that would stop higher city minimum wages

File photo.

File photo.

A city council committee on Tuesday advanced a resolution opposing a state bill that would clearly make a higher city minimum wage illegal.

Officials in Kansas City, St. Louis and several other cities oppose the bill that they say would intrude on local control.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill but that could be overturned in a veto session that begins Sept. 16.

On Thursday, Molly Fleming of Jobs for Justice told the city legislative committee about the history of the bill (HB 722):

It began as a way to shut down an attempt in Columbia to ban plastic shopping bags, and would forbid cities to impose any ban, fee or tax on plastic or paper shopping bags.

But an addition to it said in broad terms that cities could not impose any employment benefits on employers. That would include a minimum wage but also things like health, disability, retirement, profit sharing, paid or unpaid days off, sick leave, vacation and more.

Fleming said lawyers could interpret that to cover an even wider range of things, posing a large threat to city control.

And it is just part of ongoing, widespread Missouri General Assembly efforts to preempt local control, she said.

“We will face this threat next session regardless of the outcome (of the veto session).”

Meanwhile, on other fronts, the city council has passed a minimum wage increase from the state $7.65 level to up to $13 an hour by 2020.

That was not enough for those who gathered signatures to force a city vote on an increase to $15 an hour by 2020. That vote is set for Nov. 3.

And opponents have raised enough signatures to force a vote on whether to overturn the city council increase in the minimum wage.

Kansas City lawyers and St. Louis lawyers have taken different positions on whether a city minimum wage increase is even allowed under current state law.

Kansas City lawyers have repeatedly said it is not, but have reportedly backed off that somewhat. St. Louis lawyers say it is allowed.

The full city council is to vote Thursday on the resolution, which will then be distributed to state lawmakers.

Among its statements:

“Section 2. That the City Council hereby requests the General Assembly to honor the intent of the Missouri Constitution on home rule contained in the Missouri Constitution, as well as Missouri’s long history of local governance, and not enact legislation which impinges and diminishes the peoples’ rights of self-governance at the local level.”





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