May 13, 2010 6:10 PM by Melissa Canone
Legislation to help ensure women and men are compensated equally
died in a House committee Thursday, marking two years in a row the
bill has failed to make it out of the House.
Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, said her bill (House Bill
673) would make employers provide equal compensation for equal
Supporters said 39 states have passed equal pay legislation, and
they said women in Louisiana are paid 68 cents to every dollar a
man earns, making the state's wage disparity the worst in the
country. Julie Cherry of the AFL-CIO dubbed that rank "another
shameful thing about our state."
"It is wrong to pay people differently because of what their
chromosomes are," Cherry said. "If you do make that argument then
your electorate should send you home."
Lobbyists from the Louisiana Chemical Association, the National
Federation of Independent Business and the Louisiana Association of
Business and Industry opposed the bill.
Renee Baker, with NFIB, said federal law adequately addresses
this issue, and she argued any difference in pay that might exist
is mitigated by the fact that Louisiana has a lower cost of living
than other states.
The vote divided along party lines, with Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton
Rouge, the only woman on the House Labor and Industrial Relations
Committee, and the committee's two other Democrats voting to move
the bill out of committee. Five Republicans voted to shelve the