Local elected officials across Louisiana have approved resolutions in support of House Bill 422, which would lift a 1997 state law that takes away the ability of local governments to determine wage and benefit levels for their residents. The city council of New Orleans, Alexandria, Shreveport, and the Caddo Parish Commission are on record in support of the bill, but the Baton Rouge Metro Council struck down a resolution along party lines. Baton Rouge Councilwoman Erika L. Green expressed her frustration in a letter to The Advocate:
We have a problem when our council members do not want the power to represent their constituents. The resolution would not have raised the minimum wage. The only thing it would have dictated would have been a conversation between the members of the Metro Council and their constituents about what the right economic policies are for Baton Rouge. We need elected officials that are not afraid to listen to their constituents and represent their interests. … In the meantime, we need the Legislature to pass House Bill 422. It would not require any action by the Metro Council, but it would mean that local leaders like me would have the tools to ensure that small business owners in our community who pay decent wages don’t get undercut by out-of-state corporations. It would mean we would have the tools to ensure that the jobs we bring into our community pay enough to support a family, and that parents don’t get fired for taking a few days off to spend with their newborn.
The bill by Rep. Royce Duplessis is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.
The case for paid family leave
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without a national paid leave policy that gives families time away from work to deal with an illness or the birth of a child without financial hardship. With Congress hopelessly dysfunctional, several states have adopted their own paid leave policies. Louisiana has a chance to join them by passing Senate Bill 186 by Sen. J.P. Morrell. A new Louisiana Budget Project report by consultant Taly Bialystocki lays out a roadmap for policymakers, and recommends ways that a paid leave program can be effective for those who need it the most. Kaylee Poche reports for The Gambit:
The report recommends any potential paid family leave program in the state is available to all workers, employs a progressive wage replacement model to ensure sufficient benefits to low-wage workers, offers job protections and includes caregiving and personal disability. The LPB also proposes defining “family” broadly with consideration of modern family structures and using a state-administered insurance model paid for by employer and employees.
Second bill to abolish death penalty clears committee
Legislation to abolish the death penalty narrowly cleared the House criminal justice committee 8-7 and will be debated on the House floor. A similar bill has already died on the Senate floor. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte has more:
Chances of passage in the conservative chamber, however, are slim. The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal last month. Landry, a New Iberia Democrat and former state police superintendent, wants lawmakers to continue the debate. He’s pursued the proposal unsuccessfully for several years. The measure would abolish the death penalty for offenses committed starting in August. … Louisiana held its last execution in 2010. The corrections department says it can’t get lethal injection drugs because companies don’t want their products associated with capital punishment. An effort to make the drug supplier information secret, aimed at restarting executions, also awaits debate on the House floor.
Trade war is not good for Louisiana
Louisiana farmers are some of the many victims of President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China, and that war does not appear to be ending anytime soon. Even Senate Republicans are now concerned with how the Chinese tariffs on agricultural products such as soybeans – imposed in retaliation for U.S. tariffs – will affect their rural constituents. Damian Paletta, Erica Werner, and Taylor Telford of the Washington Post write:
Until last week, many Republican senators supported a tougher approach with China. But with Trump’s decision to increase tariffs, GOP lawmakers are now fielding angry calls. Soybean farmers, pork producers and a growing number of other agricultural interests across a range of states — including cherry producers, corn growers and lobstermen — have complained that they are collateral damage caught in the middle of the escalating trade battle. Vice President Pence met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday to try to assure them that Trump’s approach would result in a comprehensive trade deal benefiting U.S. farmers and businesses. But key lawmakers said they were still waiting for more information.
Number of the Day
16.8 – The percentage of soybean and soybean-related products as a share of Louisiana’s total exports. Soybeans are Louisiana’s second largest export, after petroleum. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)