Lawmakers override veto of bill blocking local plastic bag bans, minimum wage increases
JEFFERSON CITY — Local governments will not be allowed to enact bans on plastic bags or set the minimum wage higher than the state rate under a bill enacted Wednesday over Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.
The Republican-dominated legislature finished its annual veto session on a bill supporters see as a curb to municipal usurpation. Senate opponents, all of the chamber’s eight Democrats plus one Republican, argued the bill improperly blocks local efforts to address environmental and economic issues.
A law already in force bars local minimum wages in excess of the state rate, and another requires cities to conform their laws to those of the state when they cover the same subject, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said during debate.
“What we are seeing from municipal governments, most of which, by the way, have never seen a tax they didn’t like, is the same thing we are seeing from the federal government,” Schaefer said.
The bill was in the House as a reaction to the Columbia City Council’s consideration of a plastic bag ban and grew into a prohibition on local minimum wage laws when it reached the Senate. Columbia did not enact a ban.
Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and Senate sponsor of the bill, said he objected to voters or city governments deciding how to spend a business’ money.
“The folks that should be making the decision on minimum wage should be the business owners,” Kehoe said.
While opponents said they did not like the ban, they were ambivalent about whether cities should regulate store packaging. The minimum wage provision, however, provoked a three-hour Senate debate as Democratic lawmakers sought to protect ordinances in St. Louis and Kansas City.
“We can talk until we are blue in the face and it is not going to change the minds of those who want to protect the 1 percent,” said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.