March 9, 2017

House approves new minimum wage law

JEFFERSON CITY – In response to a Missouri Supreme Court decision that invalidated part of Missouri’s minimum wage law, lawmakers are moving quickly to implement a fix that would provide a consistent wage in municipalities throughout the state.

Sponsored by State Rep. Jason Chipman, HB 1194 would reaffirm that the state’s minimum wage is applied throughout the state, and keep the decision to raise wages in the hands of the employer and employee.

The House gave initial approval to the legislation Wednesday afternoon.

In presenting his bill on the House floor, Chipman told his colleagues the legislation will ensure it is not illegal for an employer to hire someone in accordance with the state minimum wage. He also said it is imperative that the fix be passed quickly to prevent the negative effects of a sudden increase in the minimum wage.

"The result of the Supreme Court decision last week causes the criminalization of employers who hire willing employees at the state minimum wage. We should be encouraging job growth not turning job creators into criminals. Employers only have two choices when they have a mandated increase in payroll - raise prices or cut costs. Cutting costs means job reduction through efficiencies and automation, not higher wages," said Chipman, R-Steelville. "Rising prices lead to inflation and ultimately reduce the purchasing power for all Missourians. We should not make it harder to achieve the American dream, and we should not create barriers to enter the workforce by artificially inflating the requirements for entry-level jobs.

Chipman noted that Missouri already has a statewide minimum wage that increases with the rate of inflation. The wage has increased by 50 percent from the time it was enacted, and exceeds the federal minimum wage. "By keeping this reasonable floor in place, we can continue to empower job creators and job seekers to determine their wages. When we talk about the need for local control, nothing is more local than keeping the decision making process in the hands of the people."

Chipman’s legislation requires a final vote in the House before it moves to the Senate for consideration.