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Debate on Maine labor bills gets heated

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- A legislative hearing on two Republican-sponsored bills that would make Maine a right-to-work state and reduce the power of unions got heated.

The bills at issue on Monday were introduced by Amherst Republican state Rep. Lawrence Lockman.

One would prohibit mandatory union membership or payment of union dues as a condition of employment.

The other would eliminate a provision in state law that automatically deducts public-sector union dues from state workers' paychecks, regardless of union membership.

Independent state Rep. James Campbell of Newfield was ruled out of order for speaking against the bills. The 79-year-old Campbell suggested that some people want to roll back the minimum wage to the 75 cents an honor he made when he was younger.

The bills face an uphill battle in a Democratic-controlled legislature.