Kansas City Will Vote on $15 Minimum Wage

Date: January 31, 2017


Missouri state law prohibits cities and localities from enacting minimum wages that are different from the state’s minimum wage, which is $7.70 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2017. However, after a long legal battle, the Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled that a petition initiative seeking a $15 minimum wage for Kansas City be put up for a vote, reported The Kansas City Star.

The petition began with a grassroots group that collected enough signatures in 2015 to put their proposal to gradually raise Kansas City’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 on the November 2015 ballot. However, in the meantime, a bill containing wage preemption language was passed by the Legislature, then vetoed by then-Gov. Nixon, then re-approved when Nixon’s veto was overturned during veto session in September 2015. Therefore, Jackson County Circuit Judge Justine Del Muro ruled the proposal should not go on the ballot.

The group appealed, and the issue was sent to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that Kansas City put the proposal up for a vote. This could happen as soon as April 4, or August if April isn’t enough time.

However, the Missouri Supreme Court didn’t resolve the issue of conflict with state law, only ruling on the proper course of action for petition initiatives. That is, waiting to see if the proposal is approved by voters before considering challenges to the ordinance in question. So, while the measure is headed for a vote now, if approved, it’s likely to be overturned in the future.

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