Local Democratic and Independent lawmakers are to be commended for helping defeat a bill that would have rolled back the minimum wage.

The Maine House voted 81-69 to reject LD 1757, which would have reduced the minimum wage from $10 to $9.50 as of June 1. Then there would be 50-cent increases annually from 2019 to 2021 until the wage reached $11 per hour.

The Republican proposal stood in direct conflict with the will of the voters, who in 2016 approved an increase of $1 annually until the minimum wage reached $12 an hour in 2020.

Republican Reps. Paula Sutton of Warren and Abden Simmons of Waldoboro supported decreasing the minimum wage, while other local lawmakers voted to reject this bill. We hope that, at some point in the future, Sutton and Simmons will realize that people who are willing to work hard every day deserve a living, or at least fair, wage for their efforts. In a society that does not provide health care or higher education to its people, keeping the minimum wage at 20th-century levels means holding many workers in an endless cycle of poverty.

The proposed bill also would have created a training wage for workers 18 and 19 years old for the first 90 days of work, and a youth minimum wage for workers younger than 18. These wages would have been 80 percent of the minimum wage.

Young people working entry-level jobs are often saving up their money to pay for higher education that will enable them to be more successful members of our community in the future. Why would we want them to be paid less for the same work? This seems patently unfair.

For many of us, people working minimum wage jobs are our friends or our children. Anyone who works hard deserves respect and fairness.

And that's not just coming from this editorial board: it's what the Maine voters decided.

Nuclear waste in Maine serves as a reminder

The lead story in this week's Coastal Journal serves as a reminder that even in our beautiful part of the world, we are not free from the dangers of human-made pollution.

The headline is: "Federal bill could compensate Wiscasset for nuclear waste storage."

Congress is considering a proposal that could mean compensation for the Midcoast town of nearly $50 million over the next six years.

The decommissioned Maine Yankee nuclear power plant left as its legacy 542 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored in 150-ton concrete casks on Bailey Peninsula. The plant operated from 1972 to 1997.

The Bangor Daily News reported in October that this nuclear waste "will pose a threat to humans and the environment for at least 10,000 years."

Various plans to remove the waste have not come to fruition and it is likely to remain where it is for decades more.

This in the town that bills itself as the "Prettiest Village in Maine."

The bill may serve as a financial Band-Aid to the town, which has struggled financially since the plant — and the tax dollars and jobs it produced — shut down. But permanent damage has been done to the environment and the future possibilities for a part of Maine.

The lights we burn in our houses, not to mention the many screens we power, require energy, and that energy comes at a high price.

Hopefully, we will remember this great danger and toxic legacy the next time nuclear power is suggested as a solution to our energy problems.