AUGUSTA – Thursday morning in the house, Democrats voted against Maine’s small businesses when they refused to allow Maine voters to consider a competing measure to the minimum wage increase referendum being sent to voters this November.
Late Thursday afternoon, Rep. Sue Austin (R) of Gray came up with a way to keep the debate alive and thanks to her efforts, the competing measure will live to see another day. Rep. Austin offered an amendment to LD 674 “An Act To Support Maine's Working Families,” a bill carried over from last session that was about to be killed by the committee. Rep. Austin amended the bill to mirror the competing minimum wage proposal offered by House Republicans in an effort to support the small business community.
“This was a bill the Democrats had sitting around from last session that they had no more use for and was set to be killed. I thought of the minimum wage issue which was fresh in my mind from the morning debate in the house and I strongly believe this deserves more discussion,” said Rep. Austin. “We have all heard from our small businesses and restaurant workers who have pleaded with us to offer the voters a sustainable compromise on minimum wage. This bill was a vehicle sitting right in front of us to do just that. I did this because it’s the right thing to do for the people of Maine who could see their hours cut or lose their jobs, and for our small businesses who have also told us how devastating a $12 per hour minimum wage would be.”
Details of the “Sue Austin Amendment”:
- The current minimum hourly wage in Maine is $7.50 per hour. The current federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25 per hour/
- Starting January 1, 2017, the minimum hourly wage would increase to $8.50 per hour.
- Starting January 1, 2018, the minimum hourly wage would increase to $9.00 per hour.
- Starting January 1, 2019, the minimum hourly wage will increase to $9.50 per hour.
- Starting January 1, 2020 the minimum hourly wage would increase to $10.00 per hour.
· There would be no change to the tip credit and no automatic indexing.