“The Legislature gave us the ability to pass the law; it was challenged in court; and the Missouri Supreme Court upheld it, giving us authority to do this,” he said, adding that the business organizations challenging the law are the ones causing confusion.and more »
JEFFERSON CITYÂ â€¢Â Opponents to the minimum wage increase in St. Louis filed a motion Wednesday challenging a Missouri Supreme Court decision that upheld the hike.In their request for a new hearing, attorneys for business groups like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Restaurant Association argue that the stateâ€™s high court misinterpreted the law at the center of the case.In 2015, the Legislature passed HB 722, blocking any local minimum wage rates that exceed the state standardÂ â€” currently $7.70 an hourÂ â€” established after Aug. 28, 2015, the very day city lawmakers in St. Louis passed a gradual increase to $11 an hour.
Earlier this month, the court ruled that St. Louis made it just under the wire, acting within its rights as a charter city to approve the change.Opponents take issue with an argument made in the courtâ€™s opinion that the Legislature, merely by passing HB 722, recognized citiesâ€™ power to enact local minimum wage ordinances.In its decision, the Court also struck down a 1998 law that prohibits political subdivisions, like St. Louis, from establishing a minimum wage exceeding the stateâ€™s wage.The motion filed Wednesday contends that if lawmakers were still operating under that law in 2015, they couldnâ€™t have possibly recognized local efforts to hike up the wage.â€œIt is an unreasonable strain on logic to assume that the legislature somehow anticipated (that bill) â€“ which was enacted nearly two decades ago and survived a legal challenge all the way up to this court â€“ would be struck down on procedural passage grounds nearly two years after HB 722â€™s passage,â€ the motion reads.St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told the Post-Dispatch that the challenge merely buys time for state lawmakers, who have worked quicklyÂ to block the city's increase in light of the court's ruling.Â
â€œI expected this,â€ Slay said. â€œThis is an attempt to delay this to give the Legislature time to act.â€Slay also pushed back on the notion that a city-only minimum wage hike is causing confusion for business ownersÂ â€” a common argument during a debate in the House last week.â€œThe Legislature gave us the ability to pass the law; it was challenged in court; and the Missouri Supreme Court upheld it, giving us authority to do this,â€ he said, adding that the business organizations challenging the law are the ones causing confusion.
â€œWe did everything deliberately and transparently,â€ Slay said.The fast-tracked state legislation would nullify the city's increase and prevent local entities from passing their own hikes. It's already passed the House, but awaits debate in the Senate.Â A report released Wednesday by the National Employment Law Project found that workers in St. Louis lost an estimated $35 million in wages they would have gotten since October 2015 if the city's increase hadn't been blocked in a legal challenge.Â Analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data, the report found those wages would have gone to more than 35,000 low-wage workers in St. Louis.Â Â
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