AUGUSTA – A bill to increase Maine’s minimum wage moved closer to final approval Wednesday after a series of votes in the Legislature, which was willing to cut the size of the increase, but not to cut teenagers out of the deal.
The Maine Senate reversed its earlier stand and went along with a wage increase after supporters offered to reduce the size of the raise by 50 cents an hour.
By an 18-17 party-line vote, senators adopted an amendment to increase the base pay from the current $6.25 per hour to $6.50 per hour in two phases, rather than to $7 as the original bill proposed.
By doing so, supporters picked up three votes needed to pass the bill, LD 673.
When the bill returned to the House Wednesday night, representatives rejected a pair of amendments that would have allowed employers to pay workers under 19 years of age lower minimum wages than those proposed in the bill.
During legislative debate, senators supporting the bill made references to individuals who would benefit from a pay increase, however meager.
Sen. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, spoke of a single mother, with three minimum-wage jobs, who refuses go sign up for government assistance programs.