Minimum Wage Proposal Still Trying for April Ballot In Kansas City

Feb 8, 2017

The quiet corridors of the Circuit Court of Jackson County in Kansas City.
Credit Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

The latest attempt to get a minimum wage proposal on the Kansas City ballot in April continued in front of a judge today.

The petitioners want Kansas Citians to vote in April on their proposal calling for a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2021. But despite a Missouri Supreme Court ruling in their favor, last month Kansas City council members refused to put the issue on the April ballot.

The petitioners, including Pastor Lloyd Fields, appealed to a Jackson County Circuit Court Judge today.

“People deserve a pay raise now,” says Fields. “I mean we’ve waited long enough, been through enough, fought enough battles to bring it to this point. It needs to be finished.”

The City Council doesn’t dispute that the petition should go on a ballot. The issue is which ballot. The focus of the argument in the court today concerned how to interpret the state Supreme Court ruling.

The city says the council can put the proposal on an August ballot and satisfy the ruling. The petitioners say the “all necessary steps” wording in the decision means it should be going on the first possible ballot – which is April's.

Local elections officials at the hearing, like Clay County’s Steve Salmon, have more practical concerns. “We are here to determine what the judge is going to order us to put on the ballot and when,” says Salmon.

Another elections official told the judge that about 100,000 ballots need to go to the printer in just over a week. 

The judge called for final documents to be filed with her tomorrow and a decision is expected soon. 

Danny Wood is a freelance reporter for KCUR.