JEFFERSON CITY • St. Louis will be able to raise its minimum wage to $11 by 2018, after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the city acted within its charter authority when it approved the hike.
The decision reverses a circuit court judge who struck down the increase in 2015, just hours before it was set to take effect.
The city was sued by business groups who said the ordinance conflicted with state law that caps the minimum wage at $7.65.
Attorneys for the business organizations argued that without a state standard, there could be thousands of minimum wages throughout the state, leading to confusion rather than consistency.
Lawyers for the city contended the cost of living in St. Louis is substantially higher than other areas in the state, hence the need for a change.
The court found that the St. Louis increase didn’t conflict with the wage set by state law.
“Its purpose of protecting employees is served by setting a floor for minimum wages; nothing in the law suggests the state also wanted to protect employers by setting a maximum minimum wage,” wrote Judge Laura Denvir Stith in the decision.
Lawmakers also sought to prevent local increases in 2015, when they tacked on a minimum wage provision to a bill prohibiting municipal bans on plastic bags.
The legislation was vetoed by former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, but overridden by the GOP-led Legislature. It took effect in October 2015.
A clause in the bill, HB 722, said it would not preempt local ordinances passed by August 28, 2015 – the day the St. Louis minimum wage ordinance took effect.
The court found that St. Louis passed its increase before HB 722 became law, and therefore could not be preempted.
Tom Shepard, chief of staff to St. Louis Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that city lawmakers…