Missouri House working to nullify minimum wage hike

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KPLR) - The Missouri State Supreme Court allowed St. Louis City's minimum wage hike to go into effect, but state lawmakers are saying not so fast.

The Missouri House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to legislation to nullify any current or future local minimum wage increase above the state minimum.

After the court upheld a 2015 law passed by the board of alderman last week, the wage is supposed to be $10 an hour this year in the city and $11 next year.

It has been a long 18 months for about 70,000 workers in the city who make less than $11 an hour.

Missouri Jobs With Justice Policy Director Richard Von Glahn said last week’s court ruling was a sweet victory for advocates who have fought for years to increase wages in the city.

"We're very pleased that the Supreme Court both recognized the long tradition and the specific action taken by the legislature [in the past] that recognized the right of the city to meet the needs of its citizens," Von Glahn said.

Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, quickly sprang into action after the ruling.

Shaul said he worries about a patchwork of wages across the state, and whether business owners in the city will be able to comply in the months ahead.

"Even before the supreme court, this body and I have always thought that the state minimum wage should be the state minimum wage," Shaul said.

Fox 2 asked Shaul if he thinks the state minimum of $7.70 an hour is too low.

"That's the great question, where should it be,” Shaul said. “We do have a cost of living, CPI on it every year. So, it continues to go up as expenses do. It’s probably a conversation that we need to have and something that needs to be looked at throughout the state."

Von Glahn said the legislature has never taken a leadership role in that conversation.

"Missouri has a long, proud history of local control in which cities can build upon the minimum standard established by the state to meet the needs of their community,” Von Glahn said. “We think that's an important standard to maintain."

Shaul expects the House to take a final vote on legislation to block local minimum wage increases this week, sending it to the Senate next week.

Republicans have expressed a desire to pass the bill before they go on spring break at the end of next week.