Governor vetoes minimum wage legislation

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JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Friday that would have denied Missouri cities the ability to raise the minimum wage above state and federal levels.

House Bill 722 would have prevented cities from offering employment benefits that exceed state and federal standards, as well as preventing cities from imposing a ban, fee or tax on the use of paper and plastic grocery bags.

Governor Nixon's veto has affirmed the right for Missouri cities to individually raise minimum wage to meet its standards of living.

However, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it believes the governor's actions will hold back economic growth and create an unstable business community.

"The veto gives municipalities the ability to override state law and create a patchwork of complicated wage standards," said Karen Buschmann, the vice president of communications. "It will make it difficult for Missouri employers to comply to a thousand different standards."

Buschmann said the services industry and chain businesses especially would be hard hit without state-controlled wage restrictions, saying those industries rely the most on tightly-controlled wage standards.

In his veto letter, the governor said HB 722 constituted government overreach and that voters should have the right to decide what's best for their city.

"With the passage of the bill, the General Assembly is telling local voters that legislators in Jefferson City-- not they-- know best how to address the local issues," Nixon said. "The power grab embodied by House Bill 722 clearly violates {the allocation of responsibilities between} state and local governments."

A few Columbia residents voiced their opinion on the veto Friday and said they would like to have the right to decide minimum wage standards for their city.

"I've worked for minimum wage since I was sixteen," said 22-year-old Columbia resident Chris Fritsche. "It's a little rough here and there, but I get by. I would like to see it go up."

The governor vetoed eight other bills Friday. House Bill 722 would have gone into effect in August.