March 3, 2010

Panel defeats bill to increase minimum wage

- BY SUSAN M. COVER

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA - The Legislature's Labor Committee voted 11-1 Monday against a bill to tie increases in the minimum wage to an annual adjustment in the Consumer Price Index.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, said that in light of the economy and conversations with two fellow Democrats who were struggling with the bill, he felt it was best to vote it down.

"Maybe the time is not right for this," he said.

Rep. Herb Clark, D-Millinocket, and Rep. Timothy Driscoll, D-Westbrook, both said they wanted to support the measure but could not.

"These are unprecedented times," Driscoll said. "These are uncertain times for our economy and we're not quite sure if it's over yet."

Business groups and individual businesses lobbied strongly against the bill. The Maine Innkeepers Association, Maine Restaurant Association, Maine Grocers Association and others testified against L.D. 192.

Supporters included the Maine State Employees Association.

The current minimum wage in Maine is $7.50, while the federal minimum is $7.25.

Because Tuttle's bill got at least one vote -- Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick -- it will move forward to the House and Senate for debate.

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

scover@centralmaine.com

 

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