During the 2019 state legislative session, United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Public Policy Committee worked closely with state legislators, Governor John Bel Edwards’ staff, and collaborative partners to advocate for legislation which will help create a better, stronger community for all.
Below are highlights from our “United for a Safe & Prosperous Community” legislative agenda, which fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person. View a full, in-depth recap here.
- New funding for ECE - For the first time in 10 years, Louisiana has made a new state investment in early care and education, totaling $18.8 million. These funds will allow 1,450 additional children to access the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and 800 children to access a pre-k program. CCAP provides subsidies to parents who are working or in school so that they can access quality, reliable care for their young children.
- Successful Early Ed Day at the Capitol - We were proud to join the Ready LA Coalition to put on a successful 2019 Early Ed Day at the Capitol, which brought together over 120 business, civic, and education leaders to advocate for increased ECE funding.
- Sports Betting - While fantasy sports betting was approved, the taxing instrument failed in the senate. Experts estimated ECE would have received an estimated $300,000 in new funding with approved taxation, but we must now wait another two years to revisit the legislation unless a special session in 2020.
- Financial Stability: UWSELA’s Public Policy team arranged testimony in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee from local leaders in support of an increase to the minimum wage and pay transparency. Unfortunately, Louisiana lawmakers failed to make progress on minimum wage, paid leave, and equal pay for women.
- Protections for Women and Cancer Patients – The governor signed three bills into law, authored by Julie Stokes, which provide coverage for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility screening and diagnostic imaging, as well as protections for prescription drug benefits for persons with stage-four advanced, metastatic cancer.
- Diaper and Feminine Product Tax Exemption - An effort by Senator JP Morrell to exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from state sales and use tax, as other necessities are, failed.
- Domestic Violence: Three domestic violence bills were signed into law, including gun divestiture legislation and an act prohibiting the incarceration of victims of domestic violence and sex offenses who refuse to testify against their abusers.
- Community Strengthening: In a big win for our youth, legislators extended the foster care age to 21.
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Governor Edwards for his extraordinary leadership throughout the 2019 Louisiana Legislative Session.
We are also grateful to Louisiana representatives and senators who served as United Way’s 2019 Legislative Champions for education, financial stability, health, and community strengthening issues during this session, including: Senators John Alario, Conrad Appel, Regina Barrow, Wesley Bishop, Troy Carter, Yvonne Colomb, Randal Gaines, Ronnie Johns, Eric LaFleur, Danny Martiny, Beth Mizell and JP Morrell; Representatives Neil Abramson, Larry Bagley, Taylor Barras, Joseph Bouie, Steve Carter, Mary DuBuisson, Royce Duplessis, Cameron Henry, Stephanie Hilferty, Walt Leger III, Joseph Marino, John Stefanski, Julie Stokes, Kirk Talbot and Malinda White.
Thank you to UWSELA’s Board of Trustees, Public Policy Committee, Women United, staff, volunteers, and collaborative partners who advocated and gave public testimony during session.
UWSELA Public Policy Committee Chair
UWSELA Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer