This past November, Maine voters approved a referendum that increased the state’s minimum wage for the first time since 2009.

However, the referendum included a change many of my constituents are concerned about: eliminating the tip credit. In the past, employers have been able to count tips toward their minimum wage obligation for tipped employees. The referendum made tipped workers’ wage half the minimum wage with annual $1 increases until it reaches the adjusted minimum wage.

I’ve heard from local servers and restaurant staff worried about their livelihoods because of the credit’s elimination. They worry and in some cases are already seeing that as their wages increase and restaurants are forced to raise prices, people will leave smaller tips or just eat takeout.

In response, I decided to co-sponsor L.D. 702, which will allow employers to consider tips part of a server’s wages in meeting their minimum wage obligation. If servers don’t make enough in tips to bring their total pay up to the minimum wage, employers would have to make up the difference. Servers will never make less than minimum wage — and could make considerably more. With or without the credit, servers will make $12 an hour by 2020.

L.D. 702 doesn’t undo the overall increase in the minimum wage. I’d never support something that did. No one working full time should live in poverty.

I’m proud to serve my neighbors in Augusta. My job is to listen to my constituents as I make decisions on policy. It’s unfortunate when any organization attacks the very people fighting to protect Maine workers as Democrats have long fought to.

I continue to welcome feedback. Please reach out to me personally with questions as this bill moves forward.

Rep. Catherine Nadeau

D-Winslow