Missouri voters approve higher minimum wage, making government more accountable

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By TIM ROWDEN
Editor

Benjamin Singer, communications director for Clean Missouri, announces victory in the passage Amendment 1 to clean up Missouri politics to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters at an election watch party Nov. 6 at Flamingo Bowl in St. Louis. – Philip Deitch photo

Missourians voted to pass two ballot measures on Nov. 6 that will raise wages and make Missouri more accountable to working people.

  • Amendment 1, the Clean Missouri amendment, will increase transparency and accountability in government by overhauling the state’s ethics and legislative redistricting laws.
  • Proposition B, will gradually increase the state’s minimum wage from its current level of $7.85 to $12 an hour by 2023, putting more money into consumers’ hands and strengthening the local economy.

Both measures passed with more than 62 percent of the vote.

Caitlyn Adams, executive director of Missouri Jobs with Justice which championed the two measures, said the twin victories represent a big step forward for working people in the state.

“With this vote, Missourians made clear that they’re tired of short-sighted politicians in Jefferson City putting special interests before our families,” Adams said.

“Hardworking people are the backbone of our democracy,” she continued. “Between Amendment 1 and Proposition B, voters supported policies and practices that will strengthen the voices of hardworking Missourians, setting them up to succeed and holding our legislators more accountable to their needs in the future. Missouri Jobs with Justice will continue to work to ensure that the ballot initiatives are fully enacted by the legislature.”

AMENDMENT 1

“Missourians are sick and tired of all the corruption and secrecy in Jefferson City,” Clean Missouri spokesman Benjamin Singer said. “We’re ready to clean it up.”

Amendment 1 will:

  • Require legislative records be open to the public, requiring the legislature to operate under the same open records law as other public entities in Missouri.
  • Require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists after the conclusion of their final legislative session.
  • Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly by banning any single gift worth more than $5. That means no more steak dinners, expensive booze, junkets or sports tickets. The rule is expected to eliminate more than 99 percent of lobbyist gift giving happening in Missouri.
  • Lower campaign contribution limits for legislative candidates to $2,500 for State Senate candidates and $2,000 for State House. Limit the ability of individuals and organizations to circumvent caps by counting money from single-source committees towards totals for original, actual donors. And ban legislative fundraising on state property.
  • Ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new legislative maps are drawn following the 2020 Census by appointing a demographer nominated by the state auditor to draw legislative district maps – with an emphasis on partisan fairness and competitiveness – which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission.

The Nov. 6 vote may not be the last word on the issue, however.

Republicans, who control the General Assembly, may place another constitutional amendment on the ballot that renders the new redistricting process inoperable if the demographer isn’t funded. State Rep. Dean Plocher (R-St. Louis) proposed such a plan earlier this session.

MINIMUM WAGE

LOW WAGE workers, union members, Jobs with Justice volunteers and others in support of raising Missouri’s minimum wage celebrate the passage of Prop B at an election night watch party Nov. 6 at Flamingo Bowl in St. Louis. – Philip Deitch photo

With the passage of Proposition B, Missouri’s minimum wage will be set at $8.60 an hour as of Jan. 1, 2019, then increase by 85 cents each year over the next four years. The minimum wage would rise to $9.45 an hour in 2020, $10.30 an hour in 2021 and $11.15 an hour in 2022 and top out at $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2023.

Once the phase-in is complete, Missouri’s minimum wage will have increased a total of $4.15 an hour, a nearly 53 percent boost from its current level.

If the federal minimum wage is raised to a level higher than that, then Missouri employers will be obligated to pay the higher federal wage.

Paula Jones, an organizer with SEIU Healthcare, which represents many nursing home and hospital workers who receive low wages, told the St. Louis American “We have a lot of single parents out there,” and Prop B will help them when they bargain for wage increases with various medical centers.

Richard von Glahn, policy director with Missouri Jobs with Justice, told the American, “Having a fair wage for a hard day of work is not a Republican or Democratic issue. That’s why you see, even in a partisan era, people are coming together to help them take care of their families. A full-time worker shouldn’t live in poverty.”

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