Legislature nixes local control for minimum wage

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Missouri Capitol
THE MISSOURI CAPITOL Building in Jefferson City

Jefferson City – Although House Republican leaders failed to keep right to work alive, Republicans were able to override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of HB 722, a bill that would prevent cities from raising their own minimum wages and prevent them from instituting a ban on plastic bags. The House voted 114-46 and the Senate voted 23-9 to override.

Despite an outpouring of opposition from mayors throughout Missouri, along with dozens of faith leaders, and constituents, the Missouri legislature chose to side with special interests and compromise the ability of local municipalities to respond to their constituencies.

Nixon vetoed the measure in July, and both St. Louis and Kansas City have passed minimum wage increases since then.

The bill passed by St. Louis officials institutes an $11 minimum wage by 2018. The wage would first increase to $8.25 an hour starting on Oct. 15. Kansas City passed a bill last month that would boost its minimum to $13 an hour by 2020.

St. Louis leaders contend their wage beat a deadline of Aug. 28 listed in the bill and wouldn't be affected by the override.

FOOD INSECURITY

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Missouri ranks second in the nation for households without enough to eat, ahead of only Arkansas. Almost eight percent of Missourians have a “very low food supply,” the USDA says. With a food insecurity rate of 17 percent, Missouri is tied for 7th in the nation.

At a time when poverty is rising across Missouri, HB 722 will most significantly restrict ordinances aimed at increasing economic opportunity for low-income families

If a city wants to increase its minimum wage, “it's up to them,” said Rep. Clem Smith (D-Velda Village Hills), arguing against the override. “Let them have their choice.”

HYPOCRISY

For faith and community leaders, the vote represents one more example of legislators putting the interests of out-of-state corporate lobbyists over hard working Missourians.

“It’s shameful that once again Missourians who are struggling to afford child care or put food on the table for their family will have their needs relegated to the sidelines, so that CEOs can increase their bottom line.” stated Rev. Susan G. McCann of Communities Creating Opportunity and Jobs with Justice.

Community leaders report they are most frustrated by the hypocrisy of legislators who regularly fight the obstruction of the federal government in the state and call for local governing, yet abandon their principles when lobbyists come to their doors.

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