Mo. Supreme Court orders K.C. vote on minimum wage despite legal issues

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court ordered Kansas City to put a proposed minimum-wage hike on the ballot despite a judge's ruling that the proposal would be illegal under state law and possibly violate the Missouri Constitution. The ruling has implications for cities, counties, and state officials who screen proposed ballot issues for legal and constitutional issues.

Supreme Court judges ruled 6 - 0 in an opinion released on Tuesday that a positive vote from citizens is needed before judges can decide if a wage increase is lawful.

A group of citizens collected enough signatures to force a vote on a minimum wage hike in 2015. The vote was scheduled to take place after the enactment of a new state law prohibiting higher local minimum wages from the state's minimum wage. Missouri's minimum wage is $7.70 an hour.

Kansas City argued it shouldn't be forced to spend money on an election for an issue banned by state law. Supreme Court judges say the issue must go before voters before it can be challenged in court.

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Here's the conclusion of the Supreme Court's opinion:

"Because all of the Charter’s initiative petition provisions were followed (or, at least, because the City raised no challenges with respect to the Committee’s compliance with them), there is no basis on which a court may prohibit the City voters from considering the proposed minimum wage ordinance. Challenges as to whether that
ordinance – if approved by the voters – would be invalid under section 285.055, as well as constitutional challenges to the validity of section 285.055 itself, remain hypothetical unless and until the voters have adopted the measure. Then, but only then, may courts entertain such challenges."

Here's the full opinion.