Democrats in the Maine House have held off a Republican bid to slow down the minimum wage increase passed by voters nearly two years ago – at least for now.
The original bill would have cut the yearly increase in the minimum wage that was ratified in 2016, while also cutting the current rate of $10 an hour to $9.50 come June 1. But the proposal was amended to eliminate the proposed wage cut while implementing a 50-cent per year increase to replace the one-dollar increases in current law.
Republicans said the wage increase passed by voters is too aggressive. Rep. Richard Pickett, a Republican from Dixfield, said the proposal was designed to help small businesses and workers in rural parts of the state.
"They have less hours,” he said. “Many times they've gone from full-time to part-time work. They've lost their benefits," he said.
Despite gaining support in the Senate, the bill was dealt a significant blow in the House by a vote of 75-72.
Democrats largely opposed it, arguing that voters want a $12 an hour minimum wage by 2020, not two years later. Rep. Ryan Fecteau, a Democrat from Biddeford, said the bid was an attack on the law voters approved in 2016.
"I won’t turn my back and ignore what 420,892 Mainers said should be, and now is, the law," he said.