In the public policy arena, progress is often incremental and takes years of persistent effort. But the pay-off – systems-level positive change – makes the case for advocacy crystal clear.
United Way of Southeast Louisiana invests in public policy work to drive our bold mission of ending poverty. Policy is a powerful tool to address systemic inequities and create opportunities for vulnerable households to thrive. Read our full 2022 legislative wrap-up here, and keep scrolling for 10 highlights from this state legislative session.
Policy affects every part of our individual lives and the strength of our communities. Here are 10 highlights from United Way SELA’s advocacy during the 2022 state legislative session.
- $84 Million Allocated for Early Care & Education: United Way SELA is a proud leader of the Ready Louisiana Coalition, whose members helped secure $84 million for early care and education this session. Learn how the funding will support low-income families with children.
- Dangerous Bills for Domestic Violence Survivors Stopped: The United Against Domestic Violence Coalition rallied against bills threatening to roll back protections for domestic violence survivors. We defeated two attempts to make it harder for domestic violence survivors to obtain protective orders and passed 24 pieces of anti-domestic violence legislation.
- Payday Lending Expansion Vetoed: We joined the Louisiana Budget Project and partners to oppose a dangerous predatory lending bill that would allow longer payday loans with interest rates over 300%. Governor Edwards vetoed this debt trap targeting struggling families.
- Office on Women’s Health Created: A multi-year effort to establish an Office on Women’s Health within the Louisiana Department of Health succeeded this year. This effort is crucial as Louisiana continually places near the bottom of national rankings for women and children’s health.
- Natural Hairstyles Protected Against Discrimination: The new CROWN Act prohibits discrimination against skin color, facial characteristics, hair texture, natural hairstyles, and protective hairstyles.
- Pink Tax Ends: Last year, United Way SELA advocated with Rep. Aimee Adatto-Freeman to eliminate state sales tax on diapers and period products. Governor Edwards signed the exemption in 2021, and it officially went into effect on July 1, 2022.
- Prescription Breast Milk Receives Insurance Coverage: In another win for families, insurance companies will now be required to cover prescription breast milk for medically fragile newborns.
- New Requirements to Support Maternal Mental Health: A new bill requires screening of new mothers for perinatal depression and mood disorders and provides for related treatment, an important win for women as suicide and overdose are the leading causes of death for childbearers in the first year following pregnancy (MMHLA.org).
- Community Strengthening Wins: United Way’s Board of Trustees and Public Policy Committee approved a move to oppose a bill that would allow adults to conceal carry firearms without a permit or training. We also supported efforts to increase accountability for insurance companies following disasters and infrastructure investments that will pave the way for a stronger economy.
- New Orleans Passes Early Childhood Education Millage: We can’t leave out this local victory. In April, New Orleans voters approved a 20-year millage to fund early childhood education. United Way SELA was proud to support the Yes for NOLA Kids campaign in its efforts to pass this millage.
Thank you to United Way SELA’s Public Policy Committee, Board of Trustees, Women United, collaborative partners, and legislative champions for their continued support of our legislative efforts to support ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households.
Together, we can enact bipartisan policies that create stronger, more equitable communities. Join our fight by signing up for advocacy alerts.
Executive Vice President & COO
United Way of Southeast Louisiana