Louisiana NOW has joined with a coalition of organizations, called
Legislative Agenda for Women (LAW), which was created to work with state
legislators, local political party representatives, and various
legislative caucus chairs to push for specific legislation to improve or
protect the interests of women in Louisiana. The founding coalition
members are NOW, National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood,
American Civil Liberties Union, American Association of University
Women, and the League of Women Voters. LAW has developed an agenda for
the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session which will convene in April.
Three pieces of legislation have been prioritized by LAW.
The first piece is a resolution
or statute to direct the Governor to reconsider his rejection of the
Medicaid Expansion element of the Affordable Care Act which would expand
the availability of Medicaid to families with incomes above the poverty
level. As NOW noted in an earlier press release, because poverty and
lack of access to healthcare disproportionately impacts women,
especially African-American and Latina women, the decision to cut off
expanded Medicaid access to the citizens of Louisiana not only affects
women's healthcare, but costs women job opportunities in the healthcare
The second piece of legislation is the Pay Equity Bill
to address the wage disparities between men and women in public
employment. This legislation was introduced in the 2012 Session by
Senator Karen Carter-Peterson (D-New Orleans), but was watered down to a
study of pay equity issues. The bill requiring the study passed the
legislature overwhelmingly, but was vetoed by the Governor.
The third piece of legislation is a bill to address certain aspects of
the current sex education law, including the authorization for the
Department of Education to survey students regarding risk behaviors.
Sen. Peterson and Representative Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) have
both agreed to work with LAW in the effort to enact these three pieces
of legislation. LAW is currently seeking sponsors for these legislative
efforts who would have the best chance of leading the bills to
successful passage. NOW is encouraging members statewide to talk to
their own legislators about these issues that affect women and girls, to
encourage their legislators to join in supporting the efforts of the
Legislative Agenda for Women, and ultimately to actively lobby their
legislators for support and passage of the bills that are supported by
the Legislative Agenda for Women coalition.
It is hoped that
the focus on these pieces of legislation will highlight issues, for
legislators as well as for the electorate,that impact women
disproportionately and will encourage the Louisiana Legislature to
specifically consider the needs of women when enacting any legislation
in the future.