Down East 2013 ©
Republican leaders in the Maine House and Senate have delayed plans to eliminate the Labor Committee from the list of Joint Select Committees within the Maine Legislature.
The Labor committee has existed since 1887 and is responsible for overseeing the Maine Department of Labor, workforce development, wage and hour laws, labor relations, workplace health and safety, and the state retirement system, among other areas.
Republicans, who now control both houses of Maine's legislature, had planned to advance the change tomorrow, the first day of the new legislature, and split the responsibilities of the committee between the Joint Select Committees on State and Local Government and Business, Research, and Economic Development.
After resistance from Democrats and members of the Labor community, however, GOP leaders pushed back the decision over the change to mid December and will now first send the proposed change to the Joint Rules committee for consideration.
The move to eliminate the committee has been challenged by some as a political play by the majority Republicans and payback to the state's labor unions, many of which supported Democrats in the recent election.
"Clearly this has nothing to do with people and everything to do with politics," said Don Berry, President of the Maine AFL-CIO in a release.
Whatever the motives, it certainly strikes a discordant note to attempt to eliminate the committee tasked with overseeing labor issues at a time when the top priority for voters continues to be job creation and security. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out over the next few weeks.