Any bill that would raise Louisiana's minimum wage above the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour would likely have to come through Riser's Labor Committee. Although the committee chairman can't kill a bill on his or her own, the chairman's support of a bill is often considered critical.How would he like it "presented?" Powerpoint? A wax-sealed envelope? Maybe Jay Dardenne can bring it over in some sort of singing telegram format.
But much will be determined by the makeup of other members of the committee. If Labor is stacked with those who would support an increase to minimum wage, Riser likely couldn't foil it.
Riser said he believes raising the state's minimum wage above federal law could harm a fragile economy and job creation.
"The Louisiana economy is struggling," Riser said. "I've not talked to any business owner who believes raising the minimum wage wouldn't harm their business. Right now the federal law is in place. It should stand."
Edwards, who has targeted an increase to $8.25 an hour, also supports legislation that would require equal pay for women, which would also likely come through Labor. Riser said he isn't sure whether or not he could support such a bill. "It depends on how it's presented," Riser said.
Jarvis DeBerry's column today is about the Governor's acknowledgement in his innaugural address that the state needs to do something about poverty.
When John Bel Edwards gave his first speech as governor of Louisiana Monday morning (Jan. 11), he rightly focused on the poor people of this state. "We talk a lot about our abundant natural resources, but we need to talk more about the most precious natural resource God has entrusted to us — our children. In Louisiana, one in four school-aged children live in poverty," he said. "That's unacceptable, and it MUST change."Republican legislators, meanwhile, are starting things off bucking the Governor's priorities and thumbing their noses at the poor.
Edwards linked that poverty to the struggle women in this state have getting a decent pay check. And he linked that poverty to the struggle that young people have paying the cost of skyrocketing tuition at our public universities. And, indirectly, he linked poverty in the state to his predecessor's refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion made possible by the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He vowed to accept the expansion immediately so our residents won't be going without while our taxes help pay for Medicaid expansion in 30 other states.