When oil and gas companies hear criticism that their facilities pollute surrounding areas and deprive local governments of much-needed tax revenue, their response almost always centers on the number of good-paying jobs they provide. But new research from the Tulane University Environmental Law Clinic shows while facilities along Louisiana’s Cancer Alley are mostly located in Black communities, most of the workers that companies hire are white. Floodlight’s Terry L. Jones reports:
“If one group gets all the pollution and another group gets all the jobs, it’s not really a tradeoff anymore,” said Kimberly Terrell, director of community engagement and a staff scientist with the Tulane University Environmental Law Clinic who led the research team. The highest disparity was found in St. John the Baptist Parish, home to the third largest oil refinery in the nation, and plants that make neoprene and absorbent material for diapers. There, people of color represent nearly 70% of the working-age population but make up only 28% of the manufacturing workforce, according to initial data from Tulane. That disparity is even greater with respect to higher-paying jobs, such as managers, sales workers and technicians. Minorities hold only 19% of those positions.
Medicaid expansion is (probably) here to stay
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income Louisianans has driven the state’s uninsured rate to historic lows. The move was done via executive order and can be undone by Edwards’ successor with the stroke of a pen. But none of the major candidates running for governor are in favor of rolling back the expansion, including frontrunner Attorney General Jeff Landry. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue asked the major candidates their opinions on Medicaid expansion and other health care issues facing the state:
[Treasurer John] Schroder said the state needs to make Medicaid more efficient and focus on combating fraud in the program. State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, wants Louisiana to improve forecasting of the state’s Medicaid population so the state has better financial projections of its spending. Shawn Wilson, Edwards’ former transportation administrator and the only Democrat in the race, said the state needs to train more nurses and other medical professionals to ensure there are enough providers to treat people with Medicaid insurance. Attorney Hunter Lundy, who is running as a political independent, said the state needs to increase reimbursement rates for health care providers who treat Medicaid clients to encourage more professionals to accept patients with Medicaid coverage.
Redistricting battles continue
U.S. District Judge Kelly Dick ruled in June that the Louisiana Legislature’s proposed congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered lawmakers to draw boundaries that more accurately reflected the state’s Black population. Judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Friday from the state of Louisiana and others who seek to overturn that order. A separate case to determine what new congressional map to use was abruptly canceled by the same court last week. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Will Sutton explains the importance of forcing lawmakers to do the right thing:
It took many civil rights and social justice battles to move us forward. Some have been memorable, single-day events. Others came via landmark judicial decisions that took time, preparation and the strongest of arguments before fair-minded judges. This is one of those weeks when many of us will be paying attention to statewide campaigns for governor, attorney general and other important offices in Louisiana during our early voting period. But what happens this week also could determine who among us gets to elect someone of our choosing to represent us in Congress in 2024.
Alabama received a new congressional map on Thursday after its own battle over racially-gerrymandered boundaries.
Work requirements (still) don’t work
Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including more than 11,500 Louisianans, face new work reporting requirements to access essential Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits under a federal debt ceiling compromise that was reached last summer. The new federal law requires “able-bodied” adults between the ages of 49-54 to work or get job training to receive food assistance. A new report from the Hamilton Project breaks down the new rules and explains how work requirements are ineffective at increasing employment, but effective at increasing hunger and hardship.
Our conclusion from a review of the literature on work requirements is that the best evidence shows they do not increase employment. Moreover, this research finds work requirements cause a large decrease in participation in SNAP. This is concerning because many SNAP recipients, especially those subject to the ABAWD work requirements, have little safety net to rely on besides SNAP. Additionally, we discuss evidence that those subject to the ABAWD work requirements face difficulty meeting the requirements through no fault of their own, but because of the types of jobs available to them. Finally, we summarize research that suggests work requirements limit SNAP’s ability to act as an automatic stabilizer during recessions.
Number of the Day
$1.2 billion – Amount of federal funding Louisiana will receive for critical infrastructure projects in 2024. The funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (Source: Louisiana Illuminator)