After the Legislature sustained her veto of LD 398, Governor Janet Mills today signed an Executive Order to pursue a minimum wage for farm workers.
The Executive Order establishes a formal stakeholder group – the Committee to Develop and Implement a Minimum Wage Bill for Agricultural Workers – to develop legislation that will implement a minimum wage for agricultural workers, identify the impacts the bill will have through other laws interconnected with Federal and State wage and hour laws, and ensure the full range of impacts are thoroughly understood by both agricultural employers and their workers.
“I strongly support a state minimum wage for farm workers and am committed to signing one into law,” said Governor Mills. “This stakeholder group will allow for a longer and more in-depth analysis of the language of LD 398, resolve questions within the agricultural community about what the bill does and does not do and what aspects of farm employment it may change, and help all parties arrive at a shared understanding so that we can move forward with and implement a farm worker minimum wage next year.”
The Governor’s Executive Order fulfills a promise to establish a formal stakeholder group after her veto of LD 398 (PDF) last week. The Governor said vetoed the bill reluctantly following “a series of questions from members of the agricultural community about the true scope of the language.”
The Co-Chairs of the Committee shall be the Commissioner of Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Commissioner of Department of Labor, or their designees. The Attorney General is requested to provide legal assistance to the Committee, within available resources. The following are invited to be on the Committee:
- The Speaker of the House of Representatives or her designee;
- The President of the Senate or his designee;
- A representative of the Maine Farm Bureau;
- A representative of the Maine Potato Board;
- A representative of the Wild Blueberry Commission;
- A representative of the Maine Dairy Industry;
- A representative of the Maine Organic Farm Gardeners Association
- A representative of the Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Co.;
- A representative of the Maine AFL-CIO;
- A representative of the Pine Tree Legal Assistance Farm Worker Unit;
- A representative of the Maine Center for Economic Policy;
- A representative of a statewide organization dedicated to supporting farmworkers and immigrants Downeast; and
- A representative of a statewide land trust dedicated to protecting farmland and supporting farmers.
The Committee shall submit a summary of its assessment process, findings, and any corresponding recommendations to the Governor on or before December 1, 2023 so that the Governor may prepare legislation to introduce in the second session of the 131st Legislature.