Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that would bar cities from setting a minimum wage or benefit level for businesses in its limits that is greater than that in state or federal law, and would prevent cities from banning the use of plastic bags.
Nixon said the bill interfered with local government control.
“Proponents of this legislation believe that their views should supplant the decisions of elected local officeholders on matters traditionally within the purview of local government, ranging from policies affecting the local standard of living to the more granular question of “paper or plastic,” Nixon wrote in his veto message. “Because I support local control, I will not approve House Bill 722.”
The minimum wage component of the bill was offered by Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City), who argued it should be up to Missouri businesses whether to set a wage or benefit level higher than the state or federal requirement.
Executive Director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, Lara Granich, agreed with Nixon’s assessment and said cities should be able to try on higher wages.
“St. Louis and Kansas City can really try out and provide leadership on higher wages and the rest of the state can see how that works for working people in that community and the local economy, and decide whether to follow,” Granich told Missourinet.
Local governments in St. Louis and Kansas City are close to voting on an increase in the minimum wage. If either is voted into law by the bill’s effective date of August 28, it would remain in effect even if the legislature overturns the governor’s veto.
The sponsor of HB 722 and state director of the Missouri Grocers Association, Representative Dan Shaul (R-Imperial), said he’s disappointed with the veto.
His bill started out as a ban on municipal bans on plastic bags. Columbia was one city considering such a ban earlier this year.
Shaul says neither component of the bill was an overreach by the legislature.
“I think through the debate in the general assembly we clearly defined that some issues should be decided at the state level, and these were two that we felt very strongly about,” said Shaul. “By enacting this legislation the ultimate local control on the bag portion of it would have been back to the consumer.”
The bill received enough votes in the state Senate to overturn Nixon’s veto, but in the House it fell four votes short of the 109 necessary. Shaul thinks those four votes can be found.
“I look forward to the opportunity during the upcoming veto session to discuss how this bill will help business and also consumers’ choice,” said Shaul.