Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2012)

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The Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative did not make the November 2012 ballot in the state of Missouri as an initiated state statute.

The proposed measure called for raising the state's minimum wage to $8.25 an hour effective January 1, 2013 with an adjustment for inflation in future years. As of 2011, Missouri's minimum wage matched the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour. Additionally, the measure called for an increase of penalties for businesses that do not pay the minimum wage.[1]

Two initiatives were filed with the Missouri Secretary of State; both were approved on November 8, 2011 for petition circulation.

Text of measure

The ballot title read:[2]

Shall Missouri law be amended to:
  • increase the state minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, or to the federal minimum wage if that is higher, and adjust the state wage annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index;
  • increase the minimum wage for employees who receive tips to 60% of the state minimum wage; and
  • modify certain other provisions of the minimum wage law including the retail or service businesses exemption and penalties for paying employees less than the minimum wage?


Increased state and local government wage and benefit costs resulting from this proposal will exceed $1 million annually. State government income and sales tax revenue could increase by an estimated $14.4 million annually; however, business employment decisions will impact any potential change in revenue. Local government revenue will change by an unknown amount.

Support

Missouri Jobs with Justice was part of the group supporting the initiative. Lara Granich, director of Missouri Jobs With Justice, said, "People are really suffering this recession. More and more families are depending on the minimum wage or on one income. We believe this is in the best interest of Missouri's economy and Missouri's families to bring the minimum wage up to $8.25."[1]

National Employment Law Project co-director of the legal section Paul Sonn said, "Basically, what they're proposing to do is catch Missouri up to Illinois, where it's been at a higher level for some time." Additionally, Sonn argues that the increase may help stimulate consumer demand and encourage hiring.[1]

Tactics and strategies

On January 28, 2012 Give Missourians A Raise and Missourians for Responsible Lending, supporters of a 2012 initiative to limit the annual rate of interest, fees, and finance charges for payday loans, kicked off the two initiative petition campaigns at a joint event at the Boone County Commission Chambers.[3]

Opposition

Associated Industries of Missouri and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, along with most business advocate groups in Missouri, are opposed to the proposal.[4]. They also opposed the 2006 measure, especially the automatic inflation adjustment provided in the initiative. The associations argue that a higher minimum discourages businesses from hiring additional employees. "The people who are doing this just don't get it - they're putting more stress on an already fragile economy. We will vigorously oppose that," said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the chamber.[1] "This would be a major job loss for Missouri at a time when we can't take any more job losses," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri.[4]

Lawsuit

See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012

Allred v. Carnahan

In mid-November 2011, Kansas City restaurant owner Victor Allred filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argued that the cost estimates for the proposed initiatives were insufficient and unfair. According to reports, the Missouri Restaurant Association endorsed Allred's challenge.[5]

On April 26, 2012 Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum rejected the challenge, therefore upholding the ballot measure and its summary.[6]

Then on May 18, 2012, Beetum ruled that the financial statement of the ballot measure was invalid. Beetum ruled that the state auditor, who prepared the estimate, had no authority to do so for ballot measures. This echoed his ruling earlier in 2012 that had bigger implications to the state's initiative process.[7]

Although that ruling was overturned by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling, the measure did not have enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.

Path to the ballot

See also: Missouri signature requirements

To qualify for the ballot, the initiative requires signatures from registered voters equal to 5% of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's election from six of the state's nine congressional districts. Signatures on behalf of all initiative petitions for the 2012 ballot are due to the secretary of state’s office by no later than 5 p.m. on May 6, 2012.

In all, signatures were submitted for three proposals days before the deadline, including one out of the two minimum wage measures. Signatures are being reviewed by the secretary of state.[8][9]

Initiative process questioned

Legal challenges lead to bigger implications surrounding the state initiative process. On February 28, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetum struck down a law that directs the state auditor to prepare fiscal analysis for proposed ballot initiatives.[10]

According to reports, Beetem stated that the law was in violation of the Missouri Constitution. Specifically, the ruling stated that the 1997 statute conflicts with a constitutional provision that prohibits laws mandating the state auditor to perform duties unrelated to overseeing the spending and receiving of public money.

What was originally a challenge to a tobacco tax initiative has now grown into a statewide confusion of the initiative process. Events in the state took another twist leading up to the week of April 23, 2012 when Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich told his staff via e-mail to cease preparation of financial estimates of initiatives, directly because of the court ruling.

Ballot initiatives must have the official financial summary included with submitted petition signatures.

Although that ruling was overturned by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling, the measure did not have enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.

See also

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Related measures

Defeatedd Missouri Minimum Wage, Proposition A (1996)
Approveda Missouri Minimum Wage Act, Proposition B (2006)

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