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Associated Industries of Missouri applauds decision of Judge Ohmer in minimum wage case

The state’s oldest business association is pleased that St. Louis City Circuit Judge Stephen Ohmer has ruled that the state’s minimum wage law is the law of the land and thrown out the City of St. Louis’ attempt to circumvent the law.

From the beginning it has been Associated Industries of Missouri’s contention that the law passed by the people in 2006 allows any Missouri employer to pay the state minimum wage and any local ordinance that seeks to supersede the state law is invalid.

“State law controls how much an employer must pay an employee,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “No local government has ever had the authority to issue an ordinance that directly violates state law. We believe the court made a correct decision.”

The City of St. Louis passed an ordinance seeking to raise minimum wages paid by businesses in the City to $11 an hour by 2018. The first increase would have taken place tomorrow, with a boost to $8.25 per hour.

Last month, Kansas City dropped its attempt to raise wages to $13 an hour by 2020. A circuit court in Kansas City agreed with the City that its proposed local minimum wage ordinance was facially invalid as conflicting with state law and ordered the ordinance removed from the municipal ballot. A law change supported by Associated Industries of Missouri and other business groups now prohibits local minimum wage ordinances.

Attorneys for St. Louis argued that the City had the right to raise its wages due to a bill passed by the legislature during the last session which included language that the attorneys argued allowed cities to hike minimum wages until August 28. St. Louis passed its minimum wage ordinance on August 28, beating the so-called “deadline”.

McCarty says he hopes the judge’s decision will bring to an end the attempts to artificially raise minimum wages for private businesses that have cropped up in several cities in Missouri over the last year.

“While higher minimum wage laws are well meaning, they actually hurt the very workers they intend to help as the number of people that may be employed is reduced,” said McCarty.

Associated Industries of Missouri will continue to keep an eye on this potentially harmful trend and will fight any local efforts to raise minimum wages.

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