AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage’s effort to keep Bangor and Portland from raising the minimum wage for workers inside their city limits suffered a blow Monday when the House of Representatives rejected the bill.
The Democrat-controlled House voted 83-60, without debate, to block LD 1361. The bill would prevent any municipality in the state from raising the minimum wage past the $7.50 per hour established by the state.
The Senate, where a Republican majority holds the reins, gave the bill initial approval in a 20-15 vote last week. While the bill is not technically dead yet, the disparate votes in the House and Senate all but assure it will die between the chambers.
LePage and his allies said the bill was needed to keep a level, simple playing field between municipalities.
Portland and South Portland are considering local minimum wage hikes, and in Bangor, a city councilor has pledged to get an increase before the full council. Supporters for those efforts say cities must take the lead because the state Legislature has failed to act on stagnating wages.
LD 92, a bill that would raise the statewide minimum wage, already died between the chambers on Friday. The House approved a “clean” version of the bill, which would have incrementally raised the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by October 2018. The Senate tacked on provisions to loosen rules regarding workers under the age of 18, which the House would not accept.
Meanwhile the state AFL-CIO and the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive group, are gathering signatures to put a statewide minimum wage increase on the ballot in 2016.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.