Mayor Sly James announced today that he is reassigning the proposed living wage ordinance to a Committee of the Whole because the issues involved are so significant that they should be reviewed and discussed by the entire City Council.
“I emphasized the importance of a living wage in my annual State of the City speech on March 31,” James said. “This is an important and complex issue that has major impact on our citizens and the business community, so the entire City Council should be engaged in the important discussion of whether and how to implement a living wage in Kansas City.”
Councilmember Ed Ford, chair of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee that conducted a hearing on the proposed ordinance on April 1, said he agreed with the Mayor’s decision.
“This proposal affects everybody in Kansas City,” Ford said. “Every council member should have the opportunity to be engaged in committee discussion and review.”
James said many key stakeholders had not yet participated in the discussion.
“Proponents of the ordinance said they spent one year researching the ordinance,” James said. “Clearly this is a significant issue, and that is why I believe the entire City Council should be involved.”
James noted that several companies across the country in recent weeks have announced plans to raise the wage they will pay their employees to amounts that exceed current state and federal minimum wage levels. Unemployment is down, meaning the demand to attract and retain employees is growing.
“Clearly economic conditions are changing,” James said. “To enact an ordinance requiring a certain wage without understanding the ramifications of those changes could be counterproductive.”
James also has asked the Council’s Legal Committee to review the ordinance because legal concerns were raised by City Attorney Bill Geary during the Planning & Zoning committee hearing on April 1.
“The City Attorney testified that state laws would prevent the City from setting a minimum wage,” Ford said. “Passage of the ordinance would surely be challenged in court.
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