JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri House members on Wednesday voted down a proposal to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $11, then gave initial approval to a bill to block St. Louis from raising the city’s local minimum wage.
Democrats tried and failed to tack on amendments to raise the statewide wage rate to a Republican bill aimed at limiting St. Louis from doing so locally. The proposal by Rep. Tracy McCreery, a suburban St. Louis Democrat, would have increased the statewide floor to $9 an hour in 2018, $10 an hour in 2019 and $11 by 2020, which she called a “more conservative” approach compared to proposals to raise the floor to $15 an hour.
Missouri’s current minimum wage is $7.70 an hour. It increases with inflation.
McCreery said her proposal “eliminates the patchwork approach to minimum wage increases, but I also think it meets the needs of the communities that we are from.”
Democrats argued some full-time workers are not able to support themselves or their families on the current minimum wage. Republicans said raising the wage floor would cost businesses money, leading employers to lay off workers or raise prices.
Later Wednesday in a voice vote, the GOP-led House gave initial approval to the underlying measure to block cities from raising local minimum wages. It was proposed in response to a state Supreme Court ruling last month that struck down an almost identical 1998 law on procedural grounds.
The ruling in effect allowed St. Louis the only city that’s passed higher local wages to move forward with a 2015 ordinance to hike minimum wages to $10 an hour this year and $11 an hour by 2018.
Republicans argued against a “patchwork” of different local minimum wage laws that some said would lead businesses to move from St. Louis to areas without lower minimum wages.
“We shouldn’t be making it harder to achieve the American dream,” Republican Rep. Jason Chipman of Steelville said. “We shouldn’t be creating barriers to those trying to gain a foothold in the workforce.”
The measure needs another vote of approval to move to the Senate.
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