In a June 12 letter to his fellow state legislators, Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-19) raised a red flag about two proposed local ordinances to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Kansas City and St. Louis.
However, according to a Missouri statute in effect since 1998, no municipality can create a minimum wage that exceeds the state minimum wage. In fact, a city’s authority on any subject covered by state law must conform to the state law on the same subject. As Schaefer aptly points out, Missouri’s state minimum wage of $7.65 per hour trumps any authority Kansas City or St. Louis claims to create a minimum wage in excess of this amount.
This past year, the legislature passed House Bill 722, which reinforced the legislature’s intent to prohibit a city from requiring an employer to provide a minimum or living wage exceeding the state minimum wage. The new legislation doesn’t take effect until August 28, hypothetically giving the two cities a window to pass their ordinances raising the minimum wage prior to the effective date. Unless one looks back at the 1998 statute.
When Mayor Sylvester James asked Kansas City’s Attorney William Geary to weigh in on the issue in March, he was met with a resounding “no.” Geary argues, as does Schaefer, that the ordinances would not only violate two state statutes, but also pose a significant threat to the authority of municipalities. “To act in an area that is already preempted by the State of Missouri,” writes Geary, “may only encourage those in the General Assembly who believe local government are lawless wastelands of social engineering, to continue their assault on local governments.”
Source: Americans for Tax Reform