New minimum wage: Call in the lawyers

untitled-(16-of-18)Now that Kansas City has a minimum wage law, the question becomes can it keep it.

The extent of legal complexities came into play Thursday during council debate.

A quick rundown:

City lawyers first said the city could not raise the wage because of state law, but then the state legislature passed a new law making it abundantly clear cities could not do that.

But that new law also said cities that had passed minimum wage laws before the new law would go into effect on Aug. 28 could keep them.

Kansas City lawyers said that opened a window to pass a minimum wage.

But then the governor vetoed the new law passed by legislators. It is unknown if they can override the veto in September.

If not, presumably the old law applies and city lawyers, and Mayor Sly James and Councilman Ed Ford, both lawyers, say the city can’t legally pass a higher minimum wage.

But not so fast. St. Louis lawyers contend cities do have the power to raise minimum wages under existing law, citing constitutional problems with it.

But James said even if one existing law has constitutional problems, there are two in play.

Conservative state legislators, he said, have a habit of passing the same thing over and over again.

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