The Missouri legislature has moved to block cities from raising the minimum wage and from banning plastic grocery bags.

Representative Dan Shaul (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Dan Shaul sponsored the original bill prohibiting bans on plastic bags, in the Missouri House.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The legislature passed a bill that started out telling cities they can’t enact ordinances banning the use of plastic bags. Several cities have considered such a measure, with backers saying those bags are bad for the environment. Added to the bill was a measure that would keep cities from enacting a minimum wage higher than Missouri’s or the federal rate.

Representative Jon Carpenter (D-Kansas City) and other Democrats said the package tramples local control.

“If you’re going to vote yes on this bill today, and again after it gets vetoed, because it will, please at least do me the favor of never again making an argument about local control,” said Carpenter. “This vote clearly demonstrates that we don’t mean it.”

Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) said bill was a response to efforts by the City Council in his hometown.

“Some ordinances that were passed that I feel like are firmly and absolutely an overreach of local ordinance and the power that local ordinance should have over private business,” said Rowden. “My House Bill 865, which contains most of the provisions in here, was an attempt to just make some clarifications as to where these decisions should happen.”

Rowden said his involvement began when the City of Columbia passed what he called the “most extreme ‘ban the box’ ordinance in the country,” telling private businesses they can’t ask employment applicants whether they are guilty of a felony. His language addressing ‘ban the box’ policies was stripped out of the bill that was passed.

Columbia had also been considering a ban on plastic bags but that proposal was recently tabled.

The original language prohibiting a ban on plastic bags was proposed by freshman representative Dan Shaul (R-Imperial), who was at the time he proposed the bill the state director of the Missouri Grocers Association.

The bill has been sent to Governor Jay Nixon (D).