Gov. LePage, corporate lobbyists attempt to undermine minimum wage referendum

Gov. LePage, corporate lobbyists attempt to undermine minimum wage referendum

Having previously admitted that defeating the popular minimum wage initiative on Maine’s ballot this November would be “pretty close to impossible,” corporate lobbyists representing the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Maine Restaurant Association, along with the LePage administration, are once again attempting to undermine the referendum before it can come to a vote.

Having failed to place a competing measure on the ballot through the legislature, the latest tactic of the corporate lobby is to attempt to rewrite the ballot question to make it longer, more complex and more confusing for voters.

“Raising the minimum wage is a simple and straightforward policy and it deserves a clear question on the ballot,” said Will Ikard, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, which helped to launch the referendum. “Proposing a question twice as long and complex as any in Maine history is nothing more than a shady and shameless ploy to confuse voters and undermine this popular referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $9 in 2017 and by a dollar a year to $12 in 2020.”

mw_question_graphThe current minimum wage referendum question as drafted by the non-partisan staff at the Office of the Secretary of State is 52 words long and is the longest of any proposed question on the ballot this year. The longest initiative question in Maine history is 54 words. The proposed question from the State Chamber of Commerce is 76 words and the version proposed by the LePage administration is 111 words long, more than double the length of any ballot question since the initiative process began in 1909.

Maine law requires that any ballot question be written “in a simple, clear, concise and direct manner.”

“This initiative is about seniors who can’t retire and parents who work endless hours away from their families. It’s about single mothers who are struggling to to provide for their children and it’s about small business owners who care about strengthening local communities. We’re not going to allow the tactics of these lobbyists to distract from fundamental issues of family and fairness,” said Ikard.

The question as currently written reads:
“Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9.00 in 2017, and in $1.00 increments up to $12 in 2020; and to raise it for service workers who receive tips from the current rate of $3.75 to $5 in 2017, in $1.00 increments up to $12 in 2024?”

Photo: Still of Maine State Chamber lobbyist Peter Gore in an anti-minimum wage video

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