Legal battle to follow if Kansas City voters approve minimum wage hike

KANSAS CITY - Kansas City voters took to the polls Tuesday to vote on several ballot initiatives, including an increase to the minimum wage.

Question 3 on the ballot asks voters whether or not they'd like to see the minimum wage increase to $10 by August 24, then incrementally up to $15 by 2022.

For some small businesses, such an increase could cause strain.

"It would make a difference. It might mean we would have to raise some prices in order to afford the increase in minimum wage," Evan Ashby, manager of Mildred's, said.

Aside from the cost to local businesses, Tuesday's ballot initiative also brings up a lot of legal problems.

"It doesn't end today with a successful vote. It only presents more questions," Councilman Quinton Lucas said.

The problem with this particular ballot initiative is that it directly contradicts a new state law that goes into effect later this month. That law prevents cities from raising their minimum wage above the state minimum wage.

According to Lucas, if the increase is approved, the question will go before the KCMO City Council. From there, there are a few possible outcomes.

If the city puts the ordinance into effect, then the state and business groups could take the issue to court. If the council rescinds the ballot initiative, then minimum wage advocates could also take the city to court.

Polls for the special election closed Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners projects voter turnout to be just 10-12 percent of those registered.

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