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Committee Votes Against Overturning Minimum Wage Law

Susan Sharon
Maine Public
Rolly's Diner in Auburn0 March 2017

A legislative committee has voted against a Republican plan to overturn a minimum wage law that was passed by voters. The issue will still go before the full Legislature for consideration.

By a vote of 7 to 6, Democrats on the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic development committee voted against a measure that would have slowed down the increase in the state minimum wage and created a sub-minimum wage for young workers. The proposed measure would slow the increase to fifty cents per year, reaching a cap at $10.50. It would have also allowed employers to pay a sub-minimum wage for teenagers.

Rep. Joel Stekis, a Republican from Canaan, was in favor of the bill. “We had business owner after business owner after business owner come in and tell us their story about how they are cutting hours of employees they care about and having to let people go.”

If passed, the measure would have overturned the voter-approved increase of a dollar an hour until a $12 minimum wage is reached in 2020. Democrats argued that the increase was the will of the voters and should not be changed.

“I did not make this decision lightly,” said Sen. Shenna Bellows, a Democrat from Manchester. “I have heard from a lot of folks on both sides. At the end of the day I heard from more people who said, 'Please uphold the will of the voters.' ”

The issue now goes to the full Legislature.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.