Voting to endanger voters

Voting to endanger voters

Though Louisiana has successfully flattened the curve of Covid-19 infections – for now – public health officials are still wise to recommend a slow, socially distanced approach to re-opening the state. And if infection rates spike, state leaders would save lives by returning to more substantial restrictions. But the House and Governmental Affairs committee’s rejection of a proposal to expand mail-in voting will force many voters to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote, thanks to baseless concerns about voter fraud. Catherine Hunt has the story in | The Advocate:

Red states like Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Alaska also have decided to conduct their presidential primaries this year entirely through mail ballots. Michigan, a political swing state, announced Tuesday that it would send mail-in ballots to all its voters for the fall election. New Orleans Democratic Rep. Mandie Landry’s House Bill 419 would not mandate voting by mail but simply allow it to be used more broadly. Before the House and Governmental Affairs committee, the measure failed in a party-line, 9-5 vote.


Childcare is a public good—fund it with public dollars
Every working family with young kids depends on childcare to let parents go to work while children learn in safety. But instead of treating childcare like the public good it is, American policymakers treat most childcare facilities like small businesses. As a result, many childcare facilities are now on very shaky ground. As Lauren Birchfield Kennedy and Katie Mayshak write in the New York Times, public childcare facilities, like public schools, would make early care more available and affordable to more children, no matter how much or how little their parents or guardians make:

After the crisis, economic recovery depends on child care and planning because it presents a catalytic opportunity to create a child care system that works for every parent. One that is financed as a public good, not just referred to as one. Months from now, we may very well see more luxury gyms than affordable, accessible child care choices. Avoiding this requires demanding that our elected state and federal representatives fight for government support for child care services. If it’s what we expect for K-12, we should expect no less for the child care sector.


Working people bring the crawfish to our boil pots
Crawfish season is different this year, with shoulder-to-shoulder socializing off the table. But the people who harvest Louisiana’s crawfish are still at work, and new Covid-19 flare ups are shining a light on their working conditions. The Advocate’s Sam Karlin reports on the crawfish farm workers put at risk by closely packed living conditions:

Before the crustacean arrives at beer-soaked crawfish boils or restaurants, crawfish is harvested and processed by a labor force made up largely of guest workers from Mexico and other countries. And when the migrant workers come to the state seasonally to work at crawfish farms and processing plants, they live in trailers or dormitory-like facilities that are often provided by employers in exchange for a cut of workers’ paychecks, depending on the type of visa.


A close call on a bad unemployment bill
A bill considered in the House Labor and Industrial Relations committee this morning would have cut unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of Louisianans in the middle of a pandemic and an unprecedented economic crisis. House Bill 620 would also have made all of Louisiana ineligible for the $600 weekly unemployment benefits that are helping families pay for rent, utilities, and  groceries after their wage-earners have been laid off. The bill’s author did not consult with the state Workforce Commission before introducing the bill, and withdrew the measure upon learning it would torpedo the state’s access for federal unemployment benefits. But as the Monroe News-Star’s Greg Hilburn reports, there appears to be support in the Legislature for cutting unemployment benefits to families in crisis:

Beaullieu’s bill would have capped the Louisiana portion of the benefit so the total payment wouldn’t exceed what the person had been earning while working. Rep. Michael Echols, R-Monroe, embraced the concept. “I don’t want people to suffer; I want people to have at least what they had before … but this is having ramifications” with employers’ ability to bring their workers back.


Number of the Day
470,000 – Number of homes in the United States without access to adequate plumbing, making it difficult for residents to follow public health guidance on handwashing during the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: Kaiser Health News)