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Legislative Panel Endorses Bill to Bring Back Lower Base Wage for Tipped Workers

Maine lawmakers have taken a step toward reinstating the lower base wage for workers who receive tips. 

The Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted 11-2 to bring back the so-called tip credit, which allows employers to pay tipped workers a lower minimum wage.

The bipartisan vote could foreshadow a repeal of a provision of a law passed by voters in November. That law raised the minimum wage but also gradually phased out the tipped wage so that workers who receive tips will one day earn the same as others making minimum wage - $12 an hour by 2020.

In April, hundreds of restaurant workers testified in favor of a bill that will restore the tipped wage. Many worried that getting rid of the tipped wage will result in a pay cut.

Opponents countered that the tipped wage subjects tipped workers to harassment, and that there's been no harm to workers where it's been repealed in other states.

The bill now goes to the Senate for preliminary votes.


Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.