The General Assembly has been on Legislative Spring Break this week, but will return to action on Monday, March 25. Conventional wisdom says that most bills that have not been passed by one chamber by break week will have difficulty making it through the entire process by adjournment of the Legislative Session in mid-May, but certainly when House and Senate leaders are determined to make an issue move, they can.
Unfortunately some lawmakers seem determined to overturn, either in whole or in part, the Amendment 1 (CLEAN initiative) and minimum wage increase victories we achieved at the polls in November. We detailed threats to Amendment 1 in our most recent newsletter. Thanks to your efforts in gathering signatures, educating neighbors, and voting, workers in Missouri will see a gradual raise of the statewide wage to $12 an hour over several years. The victory on this, Proposition B, was decisive – 62.3 percent support on November 6.
However, under House Bill 858, which state Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, filed on Feb. 11, Proposition B would be completely repealed. Even the 75-cents-an-hour increase that took effect in January would be rescinded.
State Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, and state Rep. Tim Remole, R-Excello, have filed identical bills that would exempt religious schools from following Proposition B. Instead religious schools could pay workers the old $7.85-an-hour minimum wage.
State Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, is seeking to allow employers to pay workers under age 18 just 85 percent of the state minimum wage. He would also freeze the minimum wage for tipped employees.
What can we do about these assaults on worker justice?
- Join our Under the Dome and Across the State briefing calls for advocates to learn which of these bills is moving and what action step you can take to prevent loss of the minimum wage increase. The next call is at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28.
- Talk to your neighbors. Many of them are unaware that the General Assembly is trying to take away the victory that we had at the polls. Make them aware of the resources that Empower Missouri makes available, such as our lists of bills that are moving – with new lists available on each Under the Dome call.
- Sign up for phone-banking and canvassing opportunities. Email Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org if you’d like to receive information about these activities.
Jeanette Mott Oxford,