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Kansas City Council Raises City's Minimum Wage

The Kansas City Council passed an ordinance Thursday raising the city's minimum wage. 

Cheers rang out in chamber after the council approved the new ordinance 12 - 1. It will bump wages up to $8.50 an hour by August 24, and will eventually cap at $13 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020. 

But Mayor Sly James made it clear that the ordinance could be found to violate state law, and that legislators are unlikely to simply let it stand.

"They can very easily craft more legislation that just wipes all of this out," James said. "And frankly, I fully expect them to do it. That's been the pattern, so I'll be surprised if they don't."

Despite that uncertainty, low-wage workers and advocates at the vote were thrilled. Dana Whitman of Stand Up KC said that the advocate group will continue to protest in favor of workers.

"$13 an hour is a decent start, but we're fighting for $15," Whitman said. "We're also fighting for the right to form a union. We're going to keep fighting, we're going to keep organizing, [and] we're going to keep striking until we get that."

Now the city has to figure out a way to enforce the wage increase through municipal court. City Manger Troy Schulte estimated that it would cost $250,000 to begin hiring and training workers to handle violations.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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