The effects of a Missouri Supreme Court decision allowing St. Louis to raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour could be short lived if legislation pre-empting the city's wage ordinance passes through the state Legislature.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay came to the Missouri Capitol on Monday with local activists to speak against a Republican-backed proposal preventing any city from raising the minimum wage higher than the state.
Current law prohibits cities from raising their minimum wages after Aug. 28, 2015 — the day the St. Louis ordinance went into effect.
St. Louis' law raises the wage from $10 per hour in 2017 to $11 per hour in 2018. The rule didn't go into effect immediately because a St. Louis circuit judge struck down the ordinance in November 2015. The Supreme Court ruling last week effectively reinstated the ordinance by overturning the lower court's decision.
The minimum wage in Missouri is currently $7.70 an hour.
Slay said at a news conference Monday that he and the city "are going to fight this thing all the way through," and Kansas City Mayor Sly James said in a news release that he is calling for a statewide ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage.
The wage increase would help women like St. Louis resident Bettie Douglas, who said she makes just $7.90 an hour after working full-time at McDonald's for 10 years. It's barely enough to feed and clothe her 16-year-old son — let alone pay bills, she said.
"I don't want to ask anybody to give me food stamps," she said. "All I'm asking for is to let me work and make a decent living like everybody else."
But Republican lawmakers say individual city ordinances raising the minimum wage make it more expensive for businesses. It'll also create a "patchwork quilt" of pay standards and stunt business growth, said Rep. Dan Shaul, the House bill sponsor.
"I think this is a bad practice," Shaul, said. "We will see further fragmentation in St. Louis and a lack of growth."