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Lawmakers debate proposed delay to $12 minimum wage in Missouri

Missouri House pushes back against 'revenge porn'
Posted at 8:43 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 09:44:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri's minimum wage is on track to reach $12 by 2023, but a bill would push it back to 2026.

The delay of the gradual increase is a proposal from Rep. Cody Smith of Carthage.

Rep. Smith addressed fellow lawmakers on his legislation in a committee hearing on Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Smith's legislation, HB 726, would tie Missouri's minimum wage to the federal wage of $7.25 and factor in annual cost of living.

Missouri's current wage is $10.30.

Smith said he crafted the bill after hearing from several small business owners in the medical service field and other industries about the difficulty in retaining employees.

"It gets worse as the minimum wage goes up if they're already struggling to compete with other entities that are hiring their workforce away from them," he said.

In 2018, voters approved Proposition B, which gradually increases the minimum wage to $12 by 2023.

"I think Missourians were well-intentioned when this passed at the ballot, but perhaps the unintended consequences weren't realized at the time," Smith said.

After some lawmakers expressed concern about HB 726, Smith offered a delay of the $12 minimum wage for three years to give business owners time to prepare.

"We need to give them more time to adapt to increasing the minimum wage laws," he explained.

The legislation could move to the entire House for consideration, but first needs to be voted out of committee.

While the debate on the bill continues, people fighting for an increase in the minimum wage vow to continue doing so.

Stand Up KC is a group that advocates for fast food workers and is pushing for a $15 minimum wage.

Kansas City fast food worker, Terrence Wise said he currently struggles to financially support his family and told an audience during a virtual press conference about his past trying to survive on his wages.

"Three short years ago, when I was making what they're proposing with HB 726, I was homeless in my purple minivan and I can remember looking up at the rearview mirror and looking in the backseat of our minivan at my three daughters sharing a blanket out in the parking lot of my job," Wise said.

Video of the Tuesday, March 23 Special Committee on Small Business hearing can be found on the Missouri House website in video archives.