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Business and Economy

Maine Bill Would Phase Out Lower Wages for Disabled

AUGUSTA, Maine - Republican state Sen. Roger Katz, of Augusta, has introduced legislation to phase out a state law that allows employers to pay disabled workers a wage lower than the state minimum wage. He says the law, which he describes as paying people "pennies on the dollar," just isn't fair.

"This is really a vestige going back to, really, before the Second World War," Katz says. "The idea was to try to get disabled people - physically or mentally disabled folks - employed primarily in sheltered workshops, and it was a good idea at the time. But we have come a long way since then."

Katz says the bill would allow existing pay agreements sanctioned by the Department of Labor to stay in effect until November of 2018; but after that date, disabled workers would have to be paid at least the state minimum wage.