Bill to equalize wages for people with disabilities receives unanimous committee support

Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 6:37 PM EST
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A state law that allows people with disabilities to be paid less than the minimum wage could soon be changed.

Lawmakers on the Labor and Housing committee voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a bill that bans that practice.

People with disabilities currently can receive a special certificate to be paid below minimum wage.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, says it's about recognizing the value and skills people with disabilities bring to the workplace.

"I don't think employers or just your average Joe is interested in paying a person with a disability less than the minimum wage," said Fecteau. "I think we all recognize that dignity should be first and foremost, and it's an antiquated idea that clearly didn't work well."

After the vote, Sen. Stacey Guerin, R-Glenburn, suggested they bring forward legislation next session to offer a tax credit to encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities.

That idea received support from the committee.

The bill will be sent for votes in the House and Senate next.