Judge orders minimum wage off ballot

File photo. Supporters of a minimum wage hike camped out in front of City Hall in July, 2015.

File photo. Supporters of a minimum wage hike camped out in front of City Hall in July, 2015.

A Jackson County circuit court judge this afternoon ordered election boards to remove the minimum wage increase from the Nov. 3 ballot.

The action comes on the last day of a deadline to stop the vote.

Judge Justine Del Muro’s order states that two state laws forbid cities from raising the minimum wage from the state level, now $7.65 an hour.

City officials argued that the vote would be meaningless and cost taxpayers about $500,000.

Those who gathered the initiative petition signatures contend the state laws forbidding the city increases are unconstitutional.

The state legislature last week overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that makes it illegal for any city to raise the wage.

The public vote would have been on whether to raise the city minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

The city, hoping to avoid a vote, passed an ordinance in August that would gradually raise the wage to $13 an hour by 2020, starting with a hike on Aug. 24. That never went into effect because petitioners insisted on the vote for $15 an hour.

The city also is now taking action to cancel its $13 an hour ordinance.

City attorneys have said a previous state law also forbid the increases, but the new law at one point would have allowed a legal window for such laws.

That window closed because petitioners insisted on the Nov. 3 vote, city officials say.

Taylor Fields, attorney for the petitioners, argued today that the vote should go forward and if it passes, the Missouri Supreme Court should decide the constitutional issues.

Sarah Baxter, assistant city attorney, said, “The legal issue is can Kansas City be forced to put an issue on the ballot that as it stands today we cannot enact.”

The judge ruled that the city will still have to pay costs of the election boards for things like printing ballots and publication notices.

Leave a Comment