AP: Republicans in Missouri Senate push to rein in city actions

By SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press

Posted May 7, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Jefferson City

Missouri’s GOP-led Senate expanded a House bill on Tuesday that would ban municipalities from barring the use of plastic bags and also stop cities and towns from increasing their minimum wage — a move some Democrats criticized as inhibiting local control.

The legislation aims to pre-empt municipalities from adopting traditionally liberal policies — which likely would fail in the overwhelmingly Republican Legislature — on a local level.

While the House bill would only have stopped cities and towns from banning stores from using plastic bags, senators considered also blocking minimum wage hikes and policies that block employers from questioning job applicants early on about their criminal histories, commonly referred to as ‘ban the box.’

Democrats widely criticized the proposal as taking the bill too far beyond its original scope, despite a ruling from Republican President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey in favor of that. Jefferson City Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe, who ushered the House bill through the Senate, later dropped the provision to block ‘ban the box’ amid Democratic opposition.

The measure highlights philosophical differences between the parties that are coming to a head as the GOP supermajority pushes through more red-meat bills at the end of session.

Lawmakers face a May 15 deadline to pass legislation. Democrats have, so far unsuccessfully, introduced bills this session to raise the minimum wage, ban plastic bags and ‘ban the box’ on a statewide level.

The bill that passed 24-10 on Tuesday reaffirms Republican opposition to those efforts. It goes a step further to block cities and towns from implementing those policies on a local level as well.

“This is anti-local control,” said Sen. Jill Schupp, a Democrat from Creve Coeur, a city she called “very environmentally conscious.”

Kehoe and other Republicans argued that the bill would still ensure local control by leaving more choice with consumers and businesses, and could save companies from paying higher minimum wages.

This post was written by