Judge to rule on stopping minimum wage vote

File photo.

File photo.

A Jackson County circuit court judge will decide today on whether to stop a Nov.3 city initiative petition vote on a higher minimum wage.

The deadline for an order to election officials is the end of the day, and city officials argue the vote would be meaningless and cost taxpayers about $500,000.

The state legislature last week overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that makes it illegal for any city to raise the wage above the state level, now at $7.65 an hour.

Those who obtained the signatures for the city vote to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2020 oppose removing it from the ballot.

They contend the new state law, and another that forbids cities to raise the minimum wage, are unconstitutional.

The city, hoping to avoid a vote, passed an ordinance in August raising the wage to $13 an hour by 2020. That never went into effect because petitioners insisted on the vote for $15 an hour.

The city also is now taking action to cancel it $13 an hour ordinance, which the new state law clearly forbids. City attorneys also 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, they contend.

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.”

Judge Justine Del Muro told Fields that there are now two state laws forbidding cities to raise the wage, and “this looks like an exercise in futility.”

“I think the city is bound by the laws of the state _ am I right?” she asked him.

She said she would rule later today.

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