High Court Upholds St. Louis Minimum Wage Hike, Good News For Advocates In KC

Feb 28, 2017

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that St. Louis can raise their minimum wage to $11 by 2018. 

This reverses a lower court's decision in 2015, which struck down the increase because it would conflict with a state law that prohibits municipalities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state's. 

It was that law, in part, that caused the Kansas City Council to remove a similar ordinance  from the Kansas City ballot in 2015. 

Back in January, the high court ordered Kansas City to place the minimum wage ordinance before voters, and last week, the council agreed to place it on the August ballot.

Still, questions remained over whether the ordinance could be enacted if it passed. 

Today's decision seems to remove that obstacle. 

The law in question, which was enacted by the Missouri Legislature in 2015, dealt with municipal bans on plastic grocery bags. The minimum wage provision was added on later.

The court said that law violates the state constitution because it contains more than one subject. 

Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, an advocate of the Kansas City minimum wage ordinance, hopes the decision prevents any future legal challenges to the ordinance. 

He says he's glad the court ruled in the interests of the working poor. 

"We are encouraged and we are thankful that the decision is both legally sound and morally right," Howard says. 

Third district councilman Jermaine Reed applauded the court's decision. 

"The people who've been on the very front line, working hard advocating for a raise in the minimum wage deserve to have their voices heard and deserve to make a living wage, and I believe eventually we'll get there," Reed says. 

The Kansas City ordinance would increase the minimum wage in Kansas City to $15 by 2022. It will be on the August 8, 2017 ballot. 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Kansas City ordinance would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2021.  

Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster and a reporter for KCUR 89.3 Follow her on Twitter @larodrig