Louisiana House Unanimously Passes House Resolution 46

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–July 1, 2020

Louisiana House Unanimously Passes House Resolution 46

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice teamed up with Step Up Louisiana, the Louisiana Budget Project, and State Rep. Ted James to help pass House Resolution 46.

NEW ORLEANS, LA | July 1, 2020—On Monday, June 29, the Louisiana legislature passed House Resolution 46, by Rep. Ted James, on a 98-0 vote. The resolution requests the Louisiana Workforce Commission to promote access to unemployment insurance benefits by improving wait times for filing claims.

Louise Francis, a Step Up Louisiana member who is currently unemployed due to the pandemic, spoke in front of the Labor and Industrial Relations committee, when the resolution was heard there, about why it’s needed.

“I’ve worked at the Sheraton Hotel for 19 years as a banquet cook,” Francis told the committee. “When Covid hit, they laid me off. I never got my unemployment. I’m still fighting for it.”

“The Workforce Commission has faced an unprecedented challenge during the pandemic, with more than 500,000 people filing unemployment claims since mid-March,” according to Kaitlyn Joshua, community and faith organizer at the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice  (PCEJ–http://powercoalition.org). “Despite their best efforts, the Workforce Commission couldn’t have been prepared for such a huge influx, and many people seeking benefits faced long wait times. This resolution is one step toward fixing that bottleneck.”

“While we celebrate this resolution passing, there is so much work left to do as we prioritize the needs of the people in our state during this time,” said PCEJ Executive Director Ashley Shelton. “Between the regular session and the special session, the legislature has provided very little support to the overwhelming majority of people in our state who face extreme challenges, especially as federal pandemic support starts to run out.”

Aside from House Bill 70, which will provide a one-time $250 direct payment to some frontline workers, the legislature didn’t pass any bills that address the needs of workers, the more than 500,000 Louisianans who have lost their job since mid-March, or the approximately one-third of people in our state who are currently housing insecure.

At the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, we attempted to address several of those legislative holes by teaming up with our partners at Step Up Louisiana, the Louisiana Budget Project, and others to fight for legislation that addressed those populations. Along with HR 46, we also worked with Rep. James to introduce House Resolutions 47, 48, and 49. They all addressed various aspects of unemployment insurance. Unfortunately, all three were killed in the House Labor and Industrial Relations committee.

Beyond those resolutions, we also worked with Rep. Matthew Willard to support a statewide framework for worker paid sick leave, which also met its end in the Labor committee, and Rep. Royce Duplessis to try to repeal the state ban on local government control of worker paid sick leave policies. That bill, too, didn’t make it out of committee, but this time it was the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs committee that refused to allow the full House to delve deeper into the issue. We also partnered with Rep. Mandie Landry on a bill to protect people from evictions who have lost their job during the pandemic and had trouble accessing state and/or federal assistance. That bill failed to make it out of the House Civil Law and Procedure committee.

“The regular and special session should have centered the needs of the people of Louisiana,” said Davante Lewis, Director of Public Affairs and Outreach at the Louisiana Budget Project. “But, sadly, the business lobby controlled the issues and passed legislation to cut their own taxes and protect their interests. If we want Louisiana to prosper, we must start investing in our people.”

The initial hearings in front of the Labor and Industrial Relations were covered by Fox 8 New Orleans, KALB Alexandria, and the Louisiana Illuminator.

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice works to build voice and power in traditionally ignored communities. We are a coalition of groups from across Louisiana whose mission is to organize in impacted communities, educate and turn out voters, and fight for policies that create a more equitable and just system in Louisiana.

Who: Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Step Up Louisiana, Louisiana Budget Project

What: House unanimously passes House Resolution 46, requesting the Louisiana Workforce Commission to promote access to unemployment insurance benefits by improving wait times for filing claims. Passage of the resolution is one small piece of good news for workers in a legislative session that otherwise focused on business interests.

When: July 1, 2020

Contacts:

Ashley Shelton, Executive Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (225) 802-2435, ashelton@powercoalition.org

Peter Robins-Brown, Communications Director, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, (504) 256-8196, prb@powercoalition.org