A Jackson County judge has removed Kansas City’s minimum wage increase proposal from the November ballot a week after state legislators re-affirmed an earlier law making it illegal for cities to have a minimum wage higher than the state.
Judge Justine Del Muro issued the order Tuesday, stating the question to appear on the ballot violated state law. The Missouri General Assembly earlier this year passed a law preventing city minimum wages from being higher than the state’s minimum wage of $7.65 per hour.
Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed supports the city and the decision that was made on Tuesday.
"Frankly, this will save the taxpayers over half a million dollars here in Kansas City to put something on the ballot that, unfortunately, is not necessarily something that we could enforce," Reed said.
The move was expected after Missouri lawmakers met last week and overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the law. The overriding of the veto made the law go into effect.
"These aren't games," Reed said. "These are real lives, and this is not my opinion what democracy looks like."
"We knew that there were state statues that were in conflict with raising the minimum wage, but we felt that those statutes were subject to constitutional challenges," Attorney Taylor Fields said.
The Kansas City Council had passed an ordinance in July raising the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020, in defiance of the state’s minimum wage law. An advocacy group petitioned for an even higher $15 per hour minimum wage, which was the item due to be voted on locally in November.
Now both of those minimum wage proposals are dead in the water, although local advocates of a higher minimum wage say they will not stop fighting.
Dia Wall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.