New St. Louis minimum wage could begin next week
Updated April 26 with city of St. Louis' statement and state legislation status:
The city of St. Louis expects to increase its minimum wage within the next few days. It is waiting for an injunction to be lifted now that the Missouri Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed the city to establish a higher rate that the state of Missouri.
In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Lyda Krewson said the decision is a "win for our city's working families."
St. Louis officials expect the Circuit Court to lift its injunction blocking an increase within the next week. An ordinance enacted in 2015 calls for the rate to go up to $10 an hour this year and $11 in 2018.
Meanwhile, the sponsor of minimum wage legislation in Jefferson City is expecting the bill to pass during the current legislative session. The bill would prevent communities from setting a rate higher than the one established by the state, which is linked to inflation.
Republican state Rep. Jason Chipman said the Missouri Supreme Court is allowing St. Louis to move ahead with a minimum wage increase because the original bill from 1998 violates a rule barring more than one subject to be on the same piece of legislation.
"This bill would in effect fix that problem because it is not attached to anything else. It is a stand-alone bill. It is one vote away in the Senate from passage before it would go to the Governor's desk," Chipman told St. Louis Public Radio.
Chipman does not expect the Senate to take up the bill before next week at the earliest. Legislators are currently focusing on crafting a new state budget.
Original story from March 31:
A bill intended to quash St. Louis' minimum wage increase looked to be on the fast track this session, but is now on hold in the Missouri Senate as Republicans mull an overture to Democrats to avoid a filibuster.
Senate Democrats have been threatening to block House Bill 1194/1193, which, as currently written, would bar cities and counties from raising the minimum wage higher than the state's $7.65 an hour rate.
They say the measure would deny cities and counties the freedom to decide how much their citizens should be paid.
But Republicans, who’ve argued the bill is necessary because the market, not government, should set the wage, are offering to make it less stringent in order to get it to Gov. Eric Greitens before the 2017 session ends May 12.
Though GOP Senate leaders Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City and Dan Hegeman of Cosby wouldn't specify what changes they might make, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said Friday that Republicans are offering to let municipal workers in St. Louis and Kansas City get the increase, but not those in private sector, such as fast-food workers.
Nasheed calls that a nonstarter: "Right now, the only thing that would be acceptable for me is for that bill to die. The city of St. Louis pushed for $11 an hour, and that's what I’m going to continue to fight for."
St. Louis’ wage increase, which is to jump to $11 an hour by 2018, was recently upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court.
Kehoe told reporters Thursday that he's committed to making sure there's only one minimum wage in Missouri.
"Individual municipalities just coming along after you've been operating a business forever all of a sudden changes the rules, in other words what you're going to pay the people you hire, should be based on the market, not based on a local government coming and forcing you to change that model," he said.
Supporters are also seeking to add an emergency clause, meaning it would take effect the moment it's signed into law, instead of the usual date of August 28.
Democratic Sen. Shalonn "Kiki" Curls of Kansas City also has taken part in negotiations over the minimum wage bill. Kansas City’s $8.50 an hour rate is set to take effect in September, eventually increasing to $13 by 2023.
She said she can relate to people struggling to make a living on minimum wage.
"As a single mom with two kids, even making the salary that we make here in the state legislature, I qualify for public assistance for housing," she said. "Sometimes in this chamber, within the four walls of all this marble, we tend to forget sometimes how difficult it is for other folks … can you imagine how difficult it must be for them?"
Curls, though, sounded more willing to allow a vote if enough concessions are made.
"I hope that we can come to some agreement and make the bill at least more palatable," she said.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport