BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has released the bills in his 2023 legislative package. This will be the last legislative session of his career as governor.
The priority bills pull focus on Louisiana’s economy, abortion laws and legislation related to the death penalty.
They accompany a prior state budget request Edwards made earlier this year. The governor then proposed a $3,000 teacher pay raise as well as a permanent increase of $100 per month (a 20% increase) in supplemental pay, and historic funding for higher education.
Edwards shared his perspective, stating, “This package of bipartisan legislation aims for a Louisiana that lives our pro-life values. To truly be pro-life in my estimation, we must make it easier for parents to feed, educate and house their children.”
He added, “We need to raise the minimum wage, close our gender pay gap, and offer our people paid family and medical leave. We must also find empathy for victims of rape and incest who become pregnant. And I am calling on the legislature to abolish the death penalty, which promotes a culture of death and has proven to be expensive and ineffective at deterring crime.”
Raising the minimum wage
The governor’s office said it is unacceptable that the state has not raised the minimum wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 while 20 other states have raised wages this year.
Gender wage gap
HB283 would prohibit an employer from taking any adverse action against an employee who discusses or compares their wages with another employee.
“We can’t say we are looking out for our families and our children if we don’t close the gender pay gap, which perpetuates poverty and allows our communities and children to suffer as a result,” the governor’s office said.
Eliminating the death penalty
HB228 would eliminate the death penalty in Louisiana. Those previously sentenced to death would be resentenced to a term of life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, according to the bill.
Edwards’ office said there have been “far more” exonerations over the last 20 years than actual executions. “The death penalty is increasingly expensive, difficult to carry out, proven to be ineffective at deterring crime,” the governor’s office said.
Paid family and medical leave
The governor’s office said HB596 proposes family and medical leave benefits be paid to an employee who is caring for a child during the first year after birth, adoption or placement through foster care; caring for a family member with a serious health condition; has a serious health condition that makes him/her unable to perform the functions of his position of employment; or caring for a military service member.
“It’s time to make it possible for mothers and fathers to care for their babies without risking bankruptcy,” said Edwards’ office.
Edwards is also in support of HB366 which would let the legislature enact paid family and medical leave laws for state government employees.
Abortion law exceptions
HB346 would include rape and incest exceptions to the state’s abortion law. The governor’s office said research shows that Louisianans are in support of exceptions.
Earned income tax credit expansion
A Senate bill is to be filed that would increase the state’s earned income tax credit and make it permanent, according to Edwards’ office.
Higher education fee waiver for La. National Guard service members
HB485 would create a program to cover mandatory fees for qualifying National Guard service members attending college.
Dolly Parton Imagination Library
HB412 would establish the Louisiana Imagination Library Program to encourage reading and learning in young children. It would also create a fund to pay for the program.
Eligible Louisiana children ages 0-5 would get books at their homes.
Cybersecurity in Louisiana
SB152 would create a 21-member cybersecurity commission in the Division of Administration. The commission would be responsible for coordinating cybersecurity efforts in local, state, tribal and federal governments as well as the private sector.
SB11 would prohibit insurance rate setting based on gender.
“Car insurance companies in Louisiana charge women more for auto insurance than men, just because they’re women,” said Edwards’ office. “It’s ridiculous, especially when you consider that research shows women are safer drivers, less likely to get in costly accidents. It’s time to ban this unfair and discriminatory practice.”
HB552 would suspend the legal requirement that Louisiana Citizens must charge 10% more than private insurance companies on property insurance policies until 2025.
The governor’s office said, “This will hopefully result in some premium relief for policyholders who have no option for insurance except Louisiana Citizens, although re-insurance expenses may result in Louisiana Citizens charging more than the private market even without the 10% surcharge.”
HB287 would “make it harder for insurance companies to get away with modifying reports from field adjusters at hurricane victims’ expense,” Edwards’ office said.
HB252 would ban insurance companies from charging policyholders for advertising costs in their premiums.
“This common-sense consumer protection would lower insurance rates,” the governor’s office said. “Policyholders should not have to foot the bill for every commercial with Flo, Jake, the Emu and the Gecko.”
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