The Year in Brief: New state law trumps KC, St. Louis minimum wage efforts

In brief

After local lawmakers in Kansas City and St. Louis approved municipal minimum wage hikes in 2015, the Missouri General Assembly overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto to pass into law a measure banning cities from setting their own pay floors above the statewide level.

Like other big cities across the country, Kansas City and St. Louis led the push for higher wages in Missouri. The Kansas City Council approved a wage hike to $13 by 2020, and St. Louis aldermen passed a bill raising their city’s hourly minimum to $11 by 2018.

The Year in Brief offers a look at Missouri’s most important business stories of 2015 and previews how those stories could play out in 2016 and beyond. 

But state lawmakers intervened before either local law could take effect. During the September veto session, the Republican-controlled legislature overrode Nixon’s veto of SB 722, a bill to prohibit cities from setting their own minimum wages and banning plastic bags.

As a result, Kansas City officials repealed their legislation and called for a higher minimum wage statewide. In St. Louis, a judge barred the city from raising its minimum wage just one day before the local ordinance was set to go into effect.

Both the municipal pushes for wage increases and the resistance of state lawmakers mirrored national trends. Cities including Seattle, Los Angeles and New York have raised their own wage floors, but state legislatures from Alabama to Michigan have made efforts to strip local governments of such powers.

In the future

Despite Republican lawmakers’ success squelching minimum wage hikes in 2015, a Democratic state legislator has proposed a bill for 2016 that would raise Missouri’s minimum wage from $7.65 per hour to $15 per hour. Rep. Michael Butler, D-St.Louis, has pre-filled HB 1453, saying that Missourians with full-time jobs should not live in poverty.

Meanwhile, Missouri Jobs with Justice, a coalition of community, labor, student and religious groups, is collecting signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the November 2016 state ballot. The group wants to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour, with a $1 per hour increase each year until 2023, when the minimum wage would hit $15 per hour.

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In a tweet

In July, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed SB 722, setting the stage for the veto session battle over the bill.

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