Blocked by state lawmakers from raising the minimum wage within city limits, the Kansas City Council on Thursday repealed legislation it passed last summer that would have done just that.
But along with that action, the council passed a new resolution urging the Missouri General Assembly to raise the statewide minimum of $7.65 an hour as soon as possible.
In July, the council approved an ordinance that would have raised the city’s minimum to $13 an hour by 2020. Many business owners objected, but before the ordinance took effect, the state legislature stepped in.
Lawmakers overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that prevented cities from passing their own minimum wage laws.
Mayor Sly James said it is hypocritical and unfair for the state to prevent cities from taking actions that are in their best interest when states like Missouri often complain that the federal government places limits on them.
Addressing members of the group that petitioned for a higher minimum wage, Stand Up KC, James said the council had no choice but to repeal the local wage rate.
But he and other council members urged supporters of a higher wage to lobby state lawmakers and their constituents.
The council voted 11-0 in favor of a resolution asking the General Assembly to pass a higher wage next year, saying the current rate is not sufficient to raise workers out of poverty.
A court challenge in St. Louis asserts that state law does not prevent cities from raising the minimum wage in their municipalities.
Should that view prevail on appeal, Councilman Jermaine Reed said, Kansas City should consider raising its minimum wage again.