Maine citizens’ initiative to increase minimum wage to go on ballot

The citizens’ initiative petition effort to increase the minimum wage in Maine has been found valid, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed on February 16.

The petitions for “An Act To Raise the Minimum Wage” had been in circulation since June 2, 2015. On January 14, 2016, the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions received 13,212 petitions with 86,438 total signatures of those who support the initiative.

Staff members at the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions have completed the process of certifying all of the petitions and have found 75,275 valid signatures, while 11,163 were not valid. A minimum of 61,123 signatures from registered Maine voters is required in the citizens’ initiative process, thus the petition has been deemed valid by Secretary Dunlap.

The initiative to increase the minimum wage will now go to the Legislature for consideration, per the provisions of the Maine Constitution. The Legislature can choose to enact the bill as written or to send it forward to a statewide vote in November 2016.

The bill proposes raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2017 and by $1 per hour each year after that until it is $12 per hour in 2020. The minimum wage would then increase at the same rate as the cost of living. The minimum wage for workers who receive tips would increase to $5.00 per hour in 2017 and then by $1.00 per hour each year until it matches the minimum wage for all other workers, which would occur no sooner than 2024. (State of Maine, Department of the Secretary of State, News Release, February 16, 2016, http://www.maine.gov/sos/news/2016/petitionminiwageincrease.html.)

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