A proposal in the Missouri Senate would partially undercut a minimum wage increase measure voters approved with more than 62 percent of the vote.
The language for a substitute bill that would replace Senate Bill 10 was released last week. The substitute has not yet been introduced in committee, but according to the language that has been released, it would allow minimum-wage earners younger than 18 to be paid just 85 percent of the state's minimum wage.
Proposed by Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, the bill substitute would also freeze the minimum wage tipped workers earn, rather than allowing it to increase on Jan. 1 of each year, as it would under the ballot measure voters approved last year.
Proposition B from last November's ballot asked voters to approve incremental increases to the state's minimum wage that would phase in each year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2023. State law sets the minimum wage for tipped employees at 50 percent of the overall minimum wage, but Cunningham's proposal would keep it at the $4.30 per hour to which it increased this year.
Multiple messages left over the course of the week for Cunningham and other lawmakers on the Small Business and Industry Committee, the committee in which the original SB10 was introduced, were not returned.
Richard von Glahn, policy director for Missouri Jobs with Justice, the nonprofit group that pushed the increase, said in an emailed statement that legislators backing the measure "must go explain" their reasoning to voters.
"Prior to the overwhelming passage of Proposition B, a minimum-wage worker working full time earned just $314 a week, nowhere near enough to raise a family," von Glahn said. "Missouri voters knew that wasn’t enough and voted overwhelmingly to raise the minimum wage for our state’s low-wage workers. It is out of touch for any legislator to work to overturn the will of the voters."
The minimum wage increase is the second measure voters approved in 2018 that legislators are attempting to curtail. The Missouri House has sought to enact exemptions to Amendment 1, also known as "Clean Missouri," an ethics and transparency question that passed with roughly two-thirds of the vote at the polls in November.