JEFFERSON CITY — A diverse business coalition, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has filed a suit to stop the City of St. Louis from enacting an ordinance mandating that employers pay a higher minimum wage in St. Louis versus the rest of the state. As the state’s largest business advocacy group, the Missouri Chamber supports having consistent workplace standards across Missouri—in contrast to the recent drive to create a patchwork of municipality-driven business regulations.
“It’s time for the business community to stand up against the ever-deepening layers of regulation in our state. The direction we are heading in threatens to create a nightmare for businesses, forcing them to comply with different workplace rules in every municipality where they conduct business,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “To move our state forward, we need to make Missouri a better place to do business. Efforts by our largest cities to raise the minimum wage only make our state less attractive for business growth and job creation.”
The Missouri Chamber’s action follows a growing concern among state business leaders about increasing regulation. Earlier in 2015, the Missouri Chamber released the results of a Gallup survey of more than 1,000 business leaders as part of the chamber’s 15 year strategic plan called Missouri 2030: An Agenda to Lead. The survey asked Missouri employers to cite the biggest obstacle they face to growing their businesses. Employers answered “government regulations” at twice the rate of any other factor.
The Missouri General Assembly has the opportunity to address the issue of local workplace ordinances during a veto session vote this week. The Missouri Chamber is asking lawmakers to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 722, sponsored by Rep. Dan Shaul. House Bill 722 would stop cities from increasing the minimum wage, mandating paid or unpaid leave and banning plastic or reusable shopping bags.
“Our decision to join the lawsuit in St. Louis is a positive step but doesn’t fix the overall problem. Without an override of House Bill 722, any other city in the state could attempt to follow St. Louis and Kansas City with their own effort at business regulation,” said Mehan. “We hope that this lawsuit will impress upon our lawmakers how urgent this issue is in our state today. We need to stop these local regulatory efforts before they proliferate across Missouri.”