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FirstEnergy first to abandon interim clean-energy goals for addressing climate change; the body of an 11-year-old Texas girl who disappeared on her way to school has been found in a river; and Indiana youth reported to be making progress despite challenges.

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The U.S. rejects a U.N. resolution on Israel-Gaza ceasefire, but proposes a different one. Some Democrats vote against Biden to protest his policy on Gaza and a California woman is being held in Russia.

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Drones over West Texas aim to improve rural healthcare, the Ogallala Aquifer, the backbone of High Plains agriculture, is slowly disappearing and federal money is headed to growers of wool and cotton.

Maine Minimum Wage: Competing Versions Duke It Out

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016   

AUGUSTA, Maine - It would raise the minimum wage in Maine to $9 an hour by 2017, and supporters of the ballot initiative now say they are optimistic voters will have their say in November.

Opponents of the measure attempted to send it to a dead end in committee last week, but Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO says the House handily defeated that tactic.

While some in the state Senate still want to alter or kill the minimum-wage initiative, Schlobohm says they won't have the votes to get it through the House.

"You know, it'll go to the Senate for a vote; Republicans are trying a few other procedural mechanisms," says Schlobohm. "But the House of Representatives spoke very soundly - any bill would have to go through them to get out, and it seems very clear they want to respect the will of the voters."

If the measure is approved by voters, the minimum wage would increase by $1 an hour each year, from $9 in 2017 to $12 an hour in 2020.

Opponents are offering a counter measure which they say would give voters a "modest choice," raising the wage to $10 an hour by 2020.

When opponents call the choice "modest," Schlobohm says they're not revealing the true purpose of their alternative proposal.

"That is clearly designed to derail and delay a very popular and strong minimum-wage ballot initiative," he says. "The reason citizens took this to ballot is because for the last nine years, every single round, corporate lobbyists have opposed minimum-wage increases."

In addition to local labor unions, the ballot initiative is supported by the Maine People's Alliance and is opposed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.


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