Equal pay, minimum wage bills pass committee after Edwards testimony
BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards testified in the Senate Labor Committee Thursday morning in support of equal pay for women and raising the state’s minimum wage .
Edwards spoke in favor of Senate Bill 269 that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 in 2017 and $8.50 in 2018.
The Governor’s Office says two bills currently in the House and Senate also seek to end pay secrecy policies that allow employees to be fired for talking about their wages.
Gov. Edwards cited a recent poll while speaking on the bill saying that 70 percent of Louisianians support the minimum wage raise.
Edwards also spoke in favor of Senate Bill 254 that would provide women with equal pay.
"We can’t simply talk about family values we must implement policies that value families, and I look forward to working with the legislature as this bill makes its way through the process," Edwards said.
Edwards said that the state currently has the largest pay gap in the country with women earning only 65 cents for each dollar earned by men, averaging 30 percent less pay.
He stated that minority women make even less, with African American women earning 48 cents and Hispanic women earning 53 cents for each dollar earned by men.
Edwards questioned how the pay gap sends a message to female-run businesses that might come to the state.
Edwards said that ensuring equal pay for women would be a bill that reflects family values.
He stated that 89 percent of the state supports equal pay, according to a recent poll.
“This should be the easiest thing you pass this year,” Edwards said.
The equal Pay bill (SB 254) passed out of committee by a vote of 5-2. The minimum wage bill (SB 269) passed out of committee by a vote of 4-3. Both bills now head to the Senate flood for debate.
Voting for the bill: Sens. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge; Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans; Troy Carter, D-New Orleans; and J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.
Voting against the bill: Sens. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City; Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles; and Neil Riser, R-Columbia, chairman.
Voting for the bill: Sens. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge; Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans; Troy Carter, D-New Orleans; Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles; and J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.
Voting against the bill: Sens. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City; and Neil Riser, R-Columbia, chairman.