Firefighters and police officers from throughout the state gathered at the State Capitol in Jefferson City on Tuesday to call on the Legislature to approve Senate Bill 255 , a bill that would reinstate the federal work exemption for hours worked before overtime is accrued by law enforcement officers and firefighters.
This all stems back to last November’s approval of a proposition raising Missouri’s minimum wage. Emergency officials say they should never have been included in the requirement that overtime be paid after 40 hours because police and firefighters don’t work the typical 8 to 5 shift.
Chief Russ Mason of Central County Fire and Rescue in St. Peter’s says this overtime requirement could prompt counties and municipalities to make cuts which could put public safety at risk. Those concerns are echoed by Sheldon Lineback, Executive Director of the Missouri Police Chiefs’ Association, who says already overburdened taxpayers in some parts of the state would not be able to absorb the added costs.
The Missouri House has failed to follow the lead of the Senate in passing legislation to deal with this matter. Historically, public safety officers were subject to federal overtime rules, with overtime pay starting after 54 hours of work.