What now? Governor vetoes minimum wage bill

Supporters of a minimum wage hike are camped out in front of City Hall.

Supporters of a minimum wage hike are camped out in front of City Hall.

Throwing more chaos into the Kansas City effort to raise the minimum wage, Governor Jay Nixon today vetoed a state bill critical to the effort that Mayor Sly James says will continue.

City lawyers originally determined the city could not raise its minimum wage but changed that because the state legislature passed this bill.

It clearly specified that cities could not establish minimum wages or employment benefits that exceed state or federal law.

But it also said cities that have such laws could keep them if they were enacted by Aug. 28, when the new bill would have been enacted.

The vetoed bill would also ban cities from imposing a fee on plastic bags used by retailers for packaging groceries and goods.

Some city supporters of a higher city minimum wage such as the pending increase to $13 by 2023 say that the city legal position is stronger just because the bill passed the legislature.

Opponents said the law just reverts back to what it was when city lawyers said the city did not have the power to raise the minimum wage.

Mayor Sly James issued a media statement this afternoon saying, “The city council and I intend to follow through on our promise to consider an ordinance to raise the minimum wage by July 16.”

Nixon said in a media release today that he acted because the bill was a “clear example of unwarranted government intrusion – in this case, interference with the policymaking of local governments and the abandonment of the principle of local control.”

James praised Nixon’s reasoning, even though the veto might work against the city in court.

“With the stroke of a pen,” he said, “Gov. Nixon has upheld local control.”

James also said: “We intend to see this process through. I cannot speculate on what will happen in the future, but the City Council and I will do our duty to serve the interest of Kansas Citians on an appropriate minimum wage.”

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