During his State of the State address today, Gov. John Bel Edwards outlined his legislative agenda for the session that began Monday.
Here are the bills the governor said he plans to support:
Minimum Wage Increase
SB 317 by Sen. Troy Carter
The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has not seen an increase since Congress passed legislation in 2009. Louisiana is one of only five states in the United States not to raise the minimum wage through state action.
In the 2020 legislative session, Gov. Edwards will seek a modest but meaningful increase to the minimum wage of $9 per hour to take effect in January 2021 with an additional increase to $10 per hour in July 2021.
Ending Pay Secrecy and Prohibition of Salary History
HB 447 by Rep. Barbara Carpenter
Women in Louisiana earn an average of 69 cents per every dollar made by a male counterpart. That discrepancy worsens for Black and Latina women who make only 48 and 52 cents on the dollar when compared to White men.
In an effort to close the gender pay gap, Gov. Edwards is supporting HB 477 by Rep. Carpenter, which would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose their salaries and would bar employers from asking an applicant’s salary history as a condition of employment.
African-American Military Service Members Monument
Bill to be filed by Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, Rep. Kenny Cox, and Rep. Royce Duplessis
A monument to African-American military service members in Louisiana is long overdue, and this would be the first of its kind in the South. The bill will designate an area in Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park for the construction of a monument honoring the service and sacrifices of African-American military service members and their families. The monument will honor African-American military service in the longest siege in American history at Port Hudson during the American Civil War, as well as service during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, among other conflicts.
Raise the Minimum Age to Purchase Tobacco to 21
SB 403 by Sen. Fred Mills and Rep. Vincent Pierre
SB 403 by Sen. Mills and Rep. Pierre will align state law with newly enacted federal legislation that raises the sales age for all nicotine and tobacco products to 21. The federal law change holds retailers responsible, not sales clerk or youth purchasers.
Failure to comply with the federal law change at the state level can jeopardize future federal substance abuse prevention funding. The proposal will include vape delivery devices and associated paraphernalia.
Expungements for Victims of Human Trafficking
HB 533 by Sen. Ronnie Johns and Rep. Mandie Landry
In 2017, Louisiana held its first statewide Human Trafficking Awareness Symposium with regional summits across the state. That same year, Gov. Edwards signed into law bipartisan legislation, which created the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission and Advisory Board to recommend best practice policies and programs, increase public awareness, and other efforts to prevent sex and labor trafficking among children and adults.
Combatting human trafficking has been one of Gov. Edwards' top priorities over the last four years, and HB 533 will continue to help victims recover from this form of modern-day slavery. This legislation by Sen. Johns and Rep. Landry will expand access to expungements to victims of human trafficking for non-violent offenses committed while they were victims of trafficking for which they otherwise would not be eligible for expungement.
Workplace Accommodations for Pregnant Women
SB 287 by Sen. Regina Barrow
SB 287 will provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations in the workplace to facilitate safe and healthy pregnancies and better infant and maternal health outcomes. Reasonable accommodations include simple solutions such as temporary assistance with heavy lifting, a stool to sit on, approval to carry water on a retail floor, or more frequent bathroom breaks. Currently, employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodations that would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.
Foster Youth Bill of Rights
SB 224 by Sen. Regina Barrow
Gov. Edwards will support SB 224 by Sen. Barrow to outline specific rights afforded to foster youth - including rights to privacy, a safe and supportive environment, access to ongoing care information, and access to support and various resources.
Removes Value Ad Model Weighting from Teacher Evaluation Calculations
SB 298 by Sen. Katrina Jackson
The current value-added model uses a student's projected performance based on numerous factors outside of a teacher's control. A student's value-added data is currently weighted at 35% of a teacher's evaluation score, and SB 298 completely removes the weighted value. The legislation also removes the weighted value from school and school district accountability scores.
Prohibiting Discrimination in Insurance Rate Setting
SB 13, SB 14, SB 15 and SB 16 by Sen. Jay Luneau
SB 13 prohibits insurance rate determinations based on risks classified by the gender of an insured over the age of twenty-five.
SB 14 prohibits insurance rate determinations based on risks classified by credit score/rating.
SB 15 prohibits insurance rate determinations based on risks classified due to the fact that the insured is a widow or widower.
SB 16 prohibits insurance rate determinations based on risk classifications due to the fact that the insured is deployed in the military in excess of six months.