This Week in Augusta – 03.06.2017 edition

Date: March 06, 2017


Tuesday – Senate & House, 10 a.m.

Thursday – Senate & House, 10 a.m.


LD 728 – LD 916 printed

New titles of interest include:

  • Municipal local option sales tax for education funding (LD 741)
  • Eliminate health insurance rating based on age, geographic location or smoking history; reduce variability based on group size (LD 769)
  • Create a training wage for students under age of 20 (LD 774)
  • Prohibit minimum wage from exceeding New England average (LD 775)
  • Eliminate indexing minimum wage to inflation (LD 778)
  • Increase the 3% income surtax threshold based on household income (LD 829)
  • Base minimum wage on New England average; restore the tip credit (LD 831)
  • Repeal, subject to referendum, 3% income surtax (LD 851)
  • Create risk modification factor to reduce WC rates of small businesses (LD 913)


Are employers paying too much into the Unemployment Trust Fund? That is a question NFIB raised last week in testimony about the Maine Department of Labor budget for 2018-2019 (LD 390, Part CCCCC). MDOL data show that the lowest balance in the Trust Fund was $269.9 million in 2001 despite the most severe recession since the 1930s. The balance stood at $394.3 million at the end of 2016. NFIB supported the proposal to drop the lowest Schedule A tax to 0.0% from 0.5%, noting that 21 states have a 0.0% rate and another 7 have a 0.1% rate. NFIB also noted that a change in the experience rating system, from charging the most recent employer to charging employers based on ratio inversely proportional to claimant’s employment, is something employers may view as a fairer method. The hearing was held by the Appropriations Committee jointly with the Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development Committee.


Eight Democrats came under criticism last week for cosponsoring legislation (LD 673 & LD 702) that restores the tip wage credit under Maine’s minimum wage law. Phase out of the tip credit was part of the minimum wage changes contained in Question 4 approved by voters last November. The Maine Peoples Alliance said the Democrats were siding with Governor LePage in a “minimum wage rollback attempt.” The targeted legislators include: Sen. Bill Diamond (Windham), Sen. James Dill (Old Town), Rep. Robert Alley (Beals), Rep. Martin Grohman (Biddeford), Rep. Brian Hubbel (Bar Harbor), Rep. Louis Luchini (Ellsworth), Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio (Sanford), and Rep. Catherine Nadeau (Winslow). Restauranteurs with tip-wage staff say that elimination of the tip credit will radically alter their traditional business model and negatively impact both tip-wage staff and their customers.


Here is a schedule of hearings on selected issues that may interest small business owners:

Mar. 9, 1 p.m. – Insurance & Financial Services

  • Enable MEMIC to eliminate its high-risk rating program (LD 592)


Here is a schedule of work sessions on selected issues that may interest small business owners:

Mar. 6, 10 a.m. – Taxation

  • Provide income tax credit for retailers collecting sales tax (LD 91)
  • Eliminate business tax incentives and reduce taxes on business income (LD 311)

Mar. 8, 10 a.m. – Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development

  • Protect employees from abusive work environments (LD 466)
  • Restrict use of noncompete agreements (LD 487)

Mar. 8, 1 p.m. – Judiciary

  • Increase jurisdictional limits for small claims to $15,000 from $6,000 (LD 283)

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