A referendum to raise Maine’s hourly minimum wage to $12 by 2020 is all but assured to head to the 2016 ballot without a competing measure after a legislative vote on Thursday.
That’s been the likely outcome since majority Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to send it to the ballot last week, but they voted 78-67 to kill a bill on Thursday that Republicans hoped to use to send a smaller increase to the ballot alongside it.
Calling the $12 proposal — backed by progressive groups including the Maine People’s Alliance and labor unions — too radical, business groups have been lobbying lawmakers to include on the ballot a competing measure to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour.
Both bills face further action in the Republican-controlled Senate, which could back the smaller proposal. But the House will almost certainly hold its position, sending the $12 proposal to the ballot alone.