The state House and Senate are expected to vote next week on whether cities should be allowed to hike their own minimum wage.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed the legislation that would block city ordinances increasing the minimum wage to a level greater than the state’s.
Senate handler Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) told Missourinet he believes an override would protect employers.
“It’s got a very good chance of getting out of the House and should it come to the Senate, we will discuss it with the (Senate Republican) caucus and make sure this is something that they feel that they want to take up,” said Kehoe. “Should they decide that, then yes I think it will have good support in the Senate as well.”
Kehoe said the bill would protect employers from uncertainty.
“Instead of opening up a business and then potentially having various municipalities and local governments on their own determining a different minimum wage factor than what the state has set,” said Kehoe.
The same bill would keep cities from banning plastic bags.
Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens said both provision would only interfere with local control.
“It seems like the state government is getting too much down into the weeds of local issues,” said Stephens.
Stephens said maintaining local control is a priority for his city, and others in Missouri, but said there are those in Springfield for whom the minimum wage and plastic bag ban issues are also important. He is one of eight mayors cited along with St. Louis Count executive Steve Stenger as having signed a letter urging legislators to let the veto stand.
“A legislator from Cape Girardeau, a legislator from St. Louis County, doesn’t know what our trash problems are in Springfield and we feel like we should be able to handle that on our own. The same thing – I don’t know what the trash problems are over in Cape Girardeau or in St. Joseph, so why should I have input in how they solve their problems there?” Stephens said.
Kansas City and St. Louis both passed increased minimum wage laws before August 28. The bill does not preempt local minimum wage laws in effect by that date.
Proponents of greater minimum wages say they hope the increases in those two cities will prove successful, and stir legislators into considering a statewide minimum wage greater than the national.
Kehoe says he’s afraid for Kansas City and St. Louis that the increases will have a harmful effect.
“You have surrounding areas, and in Kansas City’s case you have a surrounding state, that has a different minimum wage base, and all of a sudden you’re going to have wage-sensitive businesses such as restaurants, etcetera, that may be operating now outside of that belt because their prices on their products are based on what they’re paying their employees,” said Kehoe. “So all of a sudden if a city or a municipal government comes to them and says now you have to pay your employees this much more, it’s going to affect their prices and what they’re able to sell their products for and could put them at a disadvantage to a similar business; a competitor that’s located outside of the City of St. Louis, let’s say.”
Kehoe said he thinks the minimum wage should be set at the state level, but said he would be glad to have about debating whether it should be raised statewide.
The veto session begins Wednesday.