Recently, Missouri passed a law which effectively prevents cities within the state from setting their own minimum wage. Now, I liken this to the fact that the states themselves can set a wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage (it can't be lower than the federal minimum). Does the state have the right to prevent cities from doing this? Is there a precedence for this type of action?


So, to clear up confusion. I know the city can't go lower than the state(or federal) minimum wage. St. Louis had set a citywide minimum wage of $15. This new law that MO passed would negate the St. Louis ordinance, and prevent them from doing so again.

  • Titled fixed since that's not what "redact" means.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 15:26
  • @user6726: Thanks. I didn't even notice I did that. I was having a conversation at work and typing the question at the same time. Didn't realize it slipped in.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 15:27
  • The law doesn't prevent a city from passing its own minimum wage. There's just no point setting it below the state minimum wage, which is also not going go be below the federal minimum wage.
    – user4657
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 9:02
  • 1
    @Nij: I've edited my question. The point of it was that one city had set a higher minimum wage, and the state is passing a law to prevent cities from doing that.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 13:29
  • States can and do have a minimum wage that is lower than the federal minimum wage, but only where not preempted by the federal law, such as in Wyoming and Georgia ($5.15) and might not have any state MW law at all (5 other states, at last count).
    – Upnorth
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 22:23

3 Answers 3


Generally speaking, state law and state constitutions govern the allocation of authority between local government and state government.

The primary exception to this general rule was set forth in the case of Romer v. Evans which held that prohibiting local governments from passing laws protecting gay rights violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. But, a laws holding that matters of minimum wages or rent controls are matters of statewide rather than local concerns probably don't run afoul of Romer.


See Dillon's Rule:

Dillon’s Rule is the cornerstone of American municipal law. Under Dillon's Rule, a municipal government has authority to act only when : (1) the power is granted in the express words of the statute, private act, or charter creating the municipal corporation; (2) the power is necessarily or fairly implied in, or incident to the powers expressly granted; or (3) the power is one that is neither expressly granted nor fairly implied from the express grants of power, but is otherwise implied as essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation.

Basically the state can do what it wants and change expressly granted powers at will.


Missouri Statutes 71.010 says that

Any municipal corporation in this state, whether under general or special charter, and having authority to pass ordinances regulating subjects, matters and things upon which there is a general law of the state, unless otherwise prescribed or authorized by some special provision of its charter, shall confine and restrict its jurisdiction and the passage of its ordinances to and in conformity with the state law upon the same subject.

­­That is, city ordinances must obey state law. This is a general feature of cities and the states they are in: a city cannot override statewide law, it can only "add to it".

  • Yes, they can only add. Just like a state can only add to federal. However, the city of St. Louis had set a citywide minimum wage of $15. This new law MO is passing would negate that law.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 13:27
  • Within the confines of Missouri law, they can add other conditions, as long as they are consistent with state law. State law can and has changed.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 14:25
  • @MyCodeSucks the difference with the state/federal situation is that the federal government views the state as a distinct sovereign power, albeit subordinate to the federal government. Cities, on the other hand, are chartered under state laws and city ordinances are enforced in state courts. If the federal government sought to prevent states from setting a higher minimum wage, it would have more significant constitutional implications than a state doing that to a city.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 20:46

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