Proposals for lowering, raising, and or modifying Maine’s minimum wage are heard at the State House

By Kevin Praik

March 21, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine – Seven proposals have been made to change Maine’s minimum wage law were heard at public hearings at the State House on Monday. The seven bills range from lowering the minimum wage, raising it, or delaying its increase.

To learn about the seven proposals briefly here is an article from WMTW Channel 8: Proposals would lower, raise Maine’s minimum wage, create new teenage wage.

If you want to learn about each proposal in-depth here is an article from Mainebiz on each piece of proposed legislature and links to a PDF of the publicly available documents. Legislative committee to hear testimony on seven minimum wage bills todayMoney

The proposals come after a 2016 initiative to raise the minimum wage in Maine was voted into law. 

As of the date of this article being published, nothing has been passed by the legislature regarding the proposals heard Monday about Maine’s minimum wage law.

“People have opposed this and are fighting it because if you think about some of the impact, especially if you are a small business, this could really hurt you; if you are a small business owner,” said Dr. David Haus.

Dr. Haus has a Ph.D. in Policy History, is the author of a textbook on American National Government, and he is an Associate Professor of History at Husson University where he teaches classes on government, state and local government, and the policy process.

An argument can be made the 2016 initiative, which is now legislative because it was voted in by a simple majority of Mariners, is not good enough.

“Some people could argue it does not go far enough because of the CPI [Consumer Price Index or list of variation in prices paid by average consumers for good and other items.] doesn’t really reflect that and doesn’t even come close to what’s necessary for minimum required living wage,” Dr. Haus said.

Other arguments regarding Maine Minimum Wage is it is going to raise prices of consumer goods and therefore raise the cost of living.

Another argument is big box retailer, for example, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Nike, etc, might be able to handle the minimum wage increase better than an independent and locally run business with smaller profit margins [they make less money]. Therefore, the independent and locally run businesses would have to raise costs in order to pay the new minimum wage. Whereas a big box retailer might not need to raise prices because their profit margins are bigger. This would occur if both respected companies paid their employees the minimum wage.

Other people argue the 2016 bill will not achieve its intended purpose because if prices rise so does the cost of living and the minimum wage with it. It would become a damaging cycle to the economy of Maine.

Due to these arguments, a number of small business have attempted to repeal or reverse the minimum wage law put into place in 2016.

“Politically, I don’t think there is a lot of motivation behind changing this law right now,” said Dr. Haus.

When asked how the proposals to change Manie’s minimum wage laws would affect average Mainers, Dr. Haus said, “I think the [figurative] jury isn’t out yet. I don’t think we have a clear set of results yet. Clearly minimum wages go up and that can be a good thing. The question is how is this overall effected prices and things. We are going to need some more time to study that.”

The 2016 initiative which became state law detailed the minimum wage started at $7.50 per hour. As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage in Maine would be raised to $9.00 per hour. The minimum wage would be raised each year following by one dollar until it reached $12.00 per hour in 2020.  Every year after that on New Year’s Day the state would look at the minimum hourly wage in Maine and compare it to the increase in the cost of living, if any, measured in percentage points from the Consumer Price Index [CPI] for this region.

This can all be found in this specific legislature available to the public: Title 26: LABOR AND INDUSTRY Chapter 7: EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES Subchapter 3: MINIMUM WAGES – §664. Minimum wage; overtime rate.

“Overall, what this legislation did; the people of Maine voted in favor of this. It’s implemented [put into use or action], it’s law, and it’s been going,” Haus said. “…The idea is to always make sure that the people making minimum wage would at least have a minimum wage that is pegged to the minimum estimated cost of living in the United States.”

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