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John Bel Edwards Announces Statewide #PutLouisianaFirst Tour

BATON ROUGE, LA – Gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards announced stops on his week long statewide #PutLouisianaFirst tour, which is set to launch on Monday, July 6th and end Sunday, July 12th. The tour includes stops in over twenty-five cities throughout the state where the candidate will interact with voters and discuss his plans to improve healthcare, education, veterans’ affairs, transportation and infrastructure, as well as to address issues of local importance.

“We want to talk to people about the importance of electing a governor who is a proven leader,” Edwards said. “We need a governor who will invest in higher education, not destroy it. One who will bring healthcare to working families, not close hospitals and clinics. And one who will use tax incentives to grow our economy, not as corporate welfare for out-of-state companies.”

Edwards, a Dean’s List graduate of the Military Academy at West Point, served eight years on active duty as an Airborne Ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division, culminating with command of a rifle company. “The best way to predict someone’s future actions is to take a look at their past behavior. Unlike the other candidates in this race, I did not wait till Bobby Jindal was at thirty percent popularity to stand up to him,” Edwards said.

Tour stops open to the press are listed below. Please use contact information included in this release to schedule interviews.

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Monday, July 6

1:00 p.m. Launch #PutLouisianaFirst Tour
Claire’s on Mulberry Street
114 West Mulberry Street
Amite, LA 70422

5:00 p.m. Delgado Community College
Sidney Collier Campus
3727 Louisa Street
New Orleans, LA 70126

Tuesday, July 7

7:30 a.m. Coffee With the Candidate
Block Law Firm
422 East First Street
Thibodaux, LA 70301

9:00 a.m. Nicholls State University
Visit with President Dr. Bruce T. Murphy

906 East 1st Street
Thibodaux, LA 70310

10:30a.m South Central La Technical College
Young Memorial Campus
900 Youngs Road
Morgan City, LA 70380

12:00 p.m. Lunch Stop at JoJo’s Restaurant 
624 Front St.
Morgan City, LA 70380

5:00 p.m. –  8:00 p.m. #PutLouisianaFirst Event
River Oaks Event Center
520 E. Kaliste Saloom Rd.
Lafayette, LA 70508

Wednesday, July 8

7:30 a.m. Coffee With the Candidate
Sponsored by Chip Jackson & Glenn Armentor

Staybridge Suites
129 E. Kaliste Salooom Rd.
Lafayette, LA 70508

5:30 p.m. #PutLouisianaFirst Stop
IBEW Local #861
3000 Hwy 90 E
Lake Charles, LA 70615

Thursday July, 9

9:00 a.m. Downtown Walkabout, DeRidder
Look for the #TeamJBE Bus Downtown

11:00 a.m. Downtown Walkabout, Leesville
Look for the #TeamJBE Bus Downtown

2:00 p.m. Alexandria – Downtown Stop
Mini park across from City Hall
915 Third Street
Alexandria, LA

5:30 p.m. Joint Legislative Update with Rep. Kenny Cox
Natchitoches Arts Center
718 2nd Street
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Friday, July 10

10:30a.m. Opening JBE Headquarters in Shreveport
1610 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop
Shreveport, LA 71105

12:30 p.m. Lunch Stop
Notinis Italian Restaurant
2013-A Airline Drive
Bossier City, LA 71111

3:00 p.m. Grambling, LA
Lewis Temple CME
301 Main St.
Grambling, LA 71245

Saturday, July 11

9:30 a.m. Brunch with ULM Students and Faculty
Sponsored by Student Gov. Association

Student Union
601 Bayou Drive
Monroe, LA 71209

11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Impromptu stops on Route from Monroe to Baton Rouge

Sunday, July 12

2:00 p.m. Finale #PutLouisianaFirst Party
The Lyceum Ballroom
123 Third Street
Baton Rouge, LA  70801

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138K Louisianians to Remain Insured, SCOTUS Upholds ACA Subsidies

BATON ROUGE – In a 6-3 decision issued this morning, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the nationwide health care subsidies currently helping more than 138,000 Louisiana residents retain coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite the latest desperate effort from Republicans to make lower-income patients casualties of their irrational attacks on the ACA, the Court once more upheld the substance and the spirit of the law.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts himself said: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.” Today’s decision affirms the Affordable Care Act as an enduring commitment to our fellow citizens that health care is “not a privilege for a few but a right for all,” in the words of President Obama. Having overcome every legal challenge and prevailed at the highest levels twice in the space of three years, the Affordable Care Act is indeed here to stay.

“We are extremely happy with the Supreme Court’s ruling today upholding the Affordable Care Act,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Today’s ruling means that over 138,000 Louisianans will get to keep their health coverage. But because of the Louisiana GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid, we have over a quarter million hard-working citizens that are still caught in the ‘Jindal Gap’ and denied health coverage. Only one candidate for governor has committed to helping change that, and that is Rep. John Bel Edwards. We look forward to seeing him elected this fall.”

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Jindal Kicks off Doomed Campaign, Running from Record of Failure

KENNER, La. – After more than a year spent campaigning out-of-state on the taxpayers’ dime, and months of time wasted in the legislature attempting to curry favor with GOP power-brokers, Gov. Bobby Jindal finally made it official today and declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. As a late entrant to an extraordinarily crowded field, Jindal carries the baggage of his dismal record of failure as governor and polling numbers hovering in the low 0% range. The vanity campaign he formally kicked off in Kenner can be expected to have no actual impact on the 2016 race for president.

In making his candidacy official, Jindal attempted to tout his record as governor. Unfortunately for him, neither the voters of his state nor the facts are on his side. Under seven years of his failed policies, the state economy has suffered staggering losses and began the year with the third-highest unemployment in the nation. His gross negligence and fiscal irresponsibility saddled our state with a $1.6 billion budget deficit this year, a structural gap he bullied the legislature into papering over with what one Republican lawmaker called “a money-laundering scheme.”

“Governor Jindal has failed Louisiana in every way possible, and there’s no reason to believe he will have any more success as a candidate than he did as governor,” said state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “His record of failure disqualifies him from higher office right out of the gate, and his pattern of divisiveness and cynical, partisan manipulation is likely to make for a short campaign.”

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Flawed LSU Higher Ed “Report Card” Twisted to Serve Jindal’s Agenda

BATON ROUGE – Faced with threats to higher education made necessary by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s $1.6 billion budget deficit, LSU’s Student Government (SG) made laudable efforts to evaluate the performance of state legislators relative to education policy. The report that resulted, unfortunately, suffered from deeply flawed methodology and painted a wildly inaccurate picture as a consequence. Just as higher education officials were manipulated by Jindal’s GOP backers in the final hours of the legislative session— forced into pressuring lawmakers to support the “SAVE” sham while education funding was held hostage—- the new report has likewise been distorted in service to Jindal’s agenda.

Cherry-picking budget-related votes, the flawed report makes no significant reference to the de facto tax increase on students made possible by the GOP legislature’s decision to allow universities to raise tuition by more than 10 percent annually. Further, the LSU SG’s methodology explicitly penalizes legislators who voted against raising student fees under the umbrella of the “SAVE” money-laundering scheme.

Allies and enablers of Jindal’s failed policies like Rep. Jim Fanin and Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley are awarded “A” grades, despite their years of support for draconian cuts to higher education that have seen state investments drop from 70 percent to scarcely 30 percent, passing all of the difference on to our kids.

In compiling this report based on such flawed methodology, the LSU SG does the student body a grave disservice, attacking and alienating some of their strongest allies.

“We commend the LSU SG for paying closer attention and rallying students to fight for our universities, but this report reads like it could have come right out of Bobby Jindal’s office,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The LSU SG appears to have fallen prey to the outlandish distortions created by the fourth floor and sold to us like snake oil by his acolytes in the House and Senate.  My real fear is that this report card attacks those who have been their biggest champions.”

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Angelle Shares Responsibility for Jindal’s Failures, Refuses to Lead

BATON ROUGE – Attempting to speak with media outlets regarding the $1.6 billion deficit his failed GOP policies created, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s appointee and former protégée Scott Angelle offered baffling, incoherent policy proposals. Rebutting an assertion that no one made, Angelle insisted we cannot blame Texas or Arkansas for the budget crisis. He went on to suggest that a powerful executive branch was at the core of what’s wrong with state government.

Angelle’s assessment willfully ignores his own record, and the actual source of our state’s budgetary nightmare. As Jindal’s top lobbyist in the Legislature, Scott Angelle is intimately familiar with exactly how the sausage gets made, and personally responsible for the disastrous financial mismanagement that decimated our state’s finances.

The disparity between Angelle’s campaign and Angelle’s record doesn’t stop there. In his new television ad, he attempts to paint himself as a champion for women— despite remaining silent and submissive as his GOP colleagues killed two bills in the legislature that would have mandated equal pay for equal work. His inaction is understandable in light of his stance on a having a weak executive— which is exactly what Louisiana voters would get under a Scott Angelle administration: “Jindal light.”

“Of course we agree with Commissioner Angelle that the Governor’s office doesn’t have a monopoly on all the answers, but we do expect our next Governor to have some answers,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Right now, Angelle is failing that test miserably.”

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GOP Legislature Surrenders Powers to Norquist, Passes ‘SAVE’

BATON ROUGE – In the final hours of the 2015 legislative session, the Louisiana Legislature ceded its constitutional authority and any semblance of decision-making power to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s campaign staff. In an act of submission to the unelected, out-of-state Republican power broker who holds Jindal’s leash, both houses of the Louisiana legislature abandoned any sense of pride or duty to pass the “SAVE” scam into state law. Their surrender allows Jindal, on paper, to uphold his oath not to have raised taxes. In practice, it represents an utter and willful violation of the oath every lawmaker took to the voters of Louisiana.

Over the objections of principled lawmakers from across the political spectrum, Jindal’s agents in both chambers forced through the money-laundering scheme by bolting it onto unrelated legislation overnight in committee. While the GOP-majority Senate caved into Norquist’s agenda by embarrassing margins, legislators in the House showed leadership and courage— fighting to the very last minute against this perversion of process and the stunning precedent it represents.

“It’s a sad day for the Louisiana Legislature, and an even sadder one for the citizens they were elected to represent,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director for the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The lawmakers who allowed themselves to be bent to Jindal’s will, who were bullied into serving Grover Norquist at the expense of their constituents, will carry that shame with them until they’re voted out of office. Votes like this bring that day that much closer.”

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Good News: House Leadership Holding Strong, Common Sense to Prevail

BATON ROUGE – With final negotiations continuing late into the night at the Capitol, Democratic leadership in the House was able to hold strong and push back against the relentless attempts by Senate Republicans to insert the money-laundering “SAVE” Act into the final budget legislation. Thanks to the efforts of leaders including House Caucus Chair Rep. John Bel Edwards, House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger and Rep. Katrina Jackson, joined by courageous allies from both sides of the aisle, our leadership held the line overnight. Common sense and ethical judgment made a rare triumph in the GOP-dominated legislature, and the final package of budget legislation to be released today will not contain the odious scam demanded by Grover Norquist and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Even into the very last hours of a hard-fought legislative session, elements of the state GOP, still beholden to out-of-state special interests and in fear of their failed governor, continued their attempts to hold a budget deal hostage. Wiser heads and more courageous hearts will prevail. The budget legislation that resulted attempts to serve Louisiana families, without reference to the demands of Jindal’s doomed presidential campaign.

“This is a big deal, and will be a huge win for Louisiana taxpayers and voters who demand accountability from their elected officials,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Special thanks are due to our Democratic Caucus Chairs: Sen. Eric LaFleur and Rep. John Bel Edwards; to Rep. Katrina Jackson, to Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Sen. President Pro Tempore Sharon Weston Broome and House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger. Without their leadership, courage and perseverance, this never would have been accomplished.”

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Democratic Leadership Holds the Line Against Jindal’s Agenda

BATON ROUGE – In the waning days of this year’s legislative session, when crucial budget negotiations are coming down to the wire and the entire body struggles to address the $1.6 billion gap, the Democratic leadership in both houses continues to stand strong. Under the steady hand of leaders like Caucus Chairs Sen. Eric LaFleur and Rep. John Bel Edwards, along with Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Rep. Katrina Jackson, House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger and Sen. President Pro Tempore Sharon Weston Broome, Democrats in the legislature along with a handful of Republicans are fighting to hold the line against budget chicanery and the kind of craven, cynical politics that this governor and his acolytes have been mired in.

With scam legislation that has been openly acknowledged as a money-laundering scheme to appease Grover Norquist being pushed by Jindal’s loyal cronies, it falls to the Democratic leadership to stand up for Louisiana families and refuse to take their marching orders from an out-of-state Republican power broker. The working men and women of our state can’t balance their household budgets with a fake paper scam, and they can’t send their children to college with a funding gimmick.

“We are proud of our leadership for holding strong and refusing to back down,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Leaders like Rep. Leger and Rep. Jackson are doing the will of their constituents and the work of their conscience fighting back Norquist’s ‘SAVE’ shell-game. These are leaders doing the work they were elected to do— fighting for Louisiana values and standing up against the failed policies of the past.”

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House Leadership Stands up to Jindal, Kills ‘SAVE’ Scam

BATON ROUGE – Late today in the Louisiana Legislature, the House of Representatives took its boldest stand yet against the stubborn, selfish demands of Gov. Bobby Jindal and the out-of-state special interests he serves. House leadership showed dogged determination to push back against the “zombie bill” being pushed by Sen. Jack Donahue and Jindal’s other minions in the legislature. On the House floor, Rep. Alan Seabaugh was forced to withdraw his amendment attempting to bolt the SAVE scam onto capital outlay legislation when abruptly informed he didn’t have the votes to pass it.

In contrast to the abject compliance offered up by their colleagues in the Senate, who today twice refused to kill the phantom “SAVE” legislation, legislators from both sides of the aisle in the House came together to deny Jindal the ability to hold our state’s economy hostage to further his own doomed, national political ambitions. In doing so, they rose to the dignity of the office they hold and did the will of the people of Louisiana, not the bidding of Grover Norquist.

Thanks to the leadership of Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. John Bel Edwards, Vice Chair Rep. Ted James and Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Katrina Jackson, the House took a stand against the kind of financial mismanagement and accounting tricks that have plagued the statehouse under Jindal’s administration.

“The fight is not over, and we know Jindal’s cronies are going to keep dredging up this zombie legislation again and again,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “But we should be encouraged by the strength and the good sense that prevailed in the House today. ‘SAVE’ only serves Bobby Jindal, but for the legislature of Louisiana and the people they are sworn to represent, it only serves to waste time.”

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Senate Passes Budget, Includes ‘SAVE’ Scam Bowing to Jindal

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana State Senate passed a disjointed, badly compromised budget bill today, using the amendment process to strike down potential Medicaid expansion and twice refusing to strip the “SAVE” shell game from the legislation. Even after 11 Republican legislators penned a letter directly to GOP power-broker Grover Norquist to work around Gov. Bobby Jindal’s obstinance, Rep. Jack Donahue continued his efforts to contort state law in a convoluted money-laundering scheme designed to appease our governor-in-absentia.

While Donahue scrambled to ram through a budget bill that would accommodate Jindal’s vanity at the expense of Louisiana taxpayers, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson successfully led the effort to deny him taxpayer funding for his campaign travel. The back-and-forth of a tangled amendments process saw Donahue and his GOP allies seize the opportunity to strike even the possibility of Medicaid expansion, fight to protect Jindal’s campaign travel expenses, and ultimately pass a $24.5 billion budget by a 36-3 vote.

“We should all be disappointed in today’s budget vote,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “In contrast to the courage shown by the House last week, the Senate continued to cower and let their fear of Grover Norquist and Bobby Jindal dictate their vote. The people of Louisiana deserve better, they deserve a governor who serves the interests of taxpayers, not a legislature that serves at the whim of the governor.”

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‘SAVE’ Scam Defeated in the House, Donahue Continues to Play Games

BATON ROUGE – After a narrow defeat in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday that saw 10 legislators unite across party lines in defiance of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s bullying, state Sen. Jack Donahue began a series of desperate ploys to pass his money-laundering scam through backdoor maneuvering. Voted down in an open committee hearing, Donahue’s scam legislation was bolted on to an array of unrelated bills overnight, in hopes of forcing the lower chamber’s hand.

Together with Republican Senate President John Alario, Donahue continues to indulge in parliamentary games and trickery, abusing their time in the people’s house with legislation that serves no one but Jindal and his doomed presidential ambitions— at the expense of Louisiana taxpayers. An attempt to hijack Rep. Joel Robideaux’s film tax credit has already failed today, but Donahue and Alario remain determined to keep reviving their convoluted scheme again and again, wasting their time and taxpayers’ money as the session nears its close.

“Rep. Donahue and his allies are wasting time playing these shell games, while the window is closing on any opportunity to address the $1.6 billion deficit,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “It’s an insult to working families that Republicans in the House and Senate would rather play games trying to appease Grover Norquist than to address the budget catastrophe they created.”

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In Defiance of Jindal Veto Threat, House Kills SB 284 ‘Shell Game’

BATON ROUGE – Today in the House Ways and Means Committee, the Louisiana Legislature finally stood up in the face of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s obstinate demands and voted to kill SB284. The bill, accurately described in committee by Rep. Eddie Lambert (R) as “money laundering”, would have created an elaborate shell game, twisting the semantics of the law into knots to satisfy Jindal’s desperate pledge to Grover Norquist and the out-of-state interests he’s begging for support on his vanity campaign.

Over the objections of nine legislators still cowering under the threat of Jindal’s veto, 10 members of the Louisiana House showed the courage to, at long last, take a stand against the chicanery, deception and trickery that have been the hallmark of state fiscal policy under this governor. The proposed shell game, moving phantom fees and payments around on paper without doing a thing to address the $1.6 billion deficit, proved a bridge too far for a Legislature long held hostage by Jindal’s stubbornness and his vanity.

“Credit goes the 10 state representatives who showed their strength, to say nothing of their independence and good judgment, by voting to kill this ridiculous money laundering scheme,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Reps. Regina Barrow, Mike Danahay, Mickey Guillory, Marcus Hunter, Robert Johnson, Eddie Lambert, Joel Robideaux, Major Thibaut, Patrick Williams and Thomas Willmott all deserve our congratulations and our thanks for sparing Louisiana families the waste of time and resources this scheme represented.”

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What Louisiana Is Saying About Republicans’ Failure to Lead

BATON ROUGE – Voters throughout the state are making their voices heard, refusing to let Louisiana Republicans off the hook for the $1.6 billion budget disaster they aided and abetted in creating.

Collectively, the people who are paying attention are painting a grim picture of the GOP’s failure. “This legislature has created this crisis. In each of the three years they have passed budgets, crippling mid-year budget cuts have been made because their budget didn’t balance.  Now they are talking about just giving up?” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Voters are paying attention, and they will hold the GOP accountable for their failure this fall.”

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Medicaid Expansion Passes Senate, Gov. Candidates Must Take Stand

BATON ROUGE – Today the state senate voted 31-8 in favor of legislation by Republican House Speaker Chuck Kleckley that will enable the next governor of Louisiana to finally expand Medicaid. The measure won final passage, and cannot be vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Passage of HCR 75 opens the door to billions of available federal health care dollars, desperately needed in the face of the $1.6 billion GOP budget disaster.

The vote represents a victory for Louisiana families, for those struggling in the face of spiraling health care costs and hospital closures, and for common sense. It further represents an opportunity for every candidate in the governor’s race to go on the record with their commitment to expanding Medicaid for Louisiana taxpayers on day one.

Rep. John Bel Edwards has been a leader on this issue throughout the legislative session. He is the only candidate for governor who has gone on the record with his support for Medicaid expansion. Indeed, were it not for his efforts, the legislation would likely not have passed both chambers of the legislature.

“After today’s vote, every candidate in the race to replace Gov. Jindal has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to plainly state their position on expanding Medicaid,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director for the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The mechanism is there, the voters deserve to hear a commitment from each candidate one way or the other. No more excuses.”

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GOP Legislature Denies Help to Louisiana Families, Kills HB 70

BATON ROUGE – In a close vote today, the Louisiana House of Representatives rejected an opportunity to help more than 500,000 working families by adjusting the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). House Bill 70 by Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, which would have doubled the current state credit, was voted down 48-49. Ignoring every economic and moral argument offered to give hardworking Louisiana families a hand up, the GOP-controlled House refused to make the investment in our children and in our communities.

In keeping with the failed GOP policies that have left Louisiana with one of the most regressive tax structures in the country, forty-eight House Republicans (and a single Independent) voted against supporting family values, and supporting working families. Their contempt for the working families struggling under the weight of the $1.6 billion budget disaster cost 515,000 Louisianans their best opportunity to lift their children above the poverty line.

“We are keeping people in poverty,” said Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, making the moral argument that in instances such as this, it is the policies of the legislature itself that prove the biggest obstacle to the citizens its members were elected to serve.

“It’s disappointing, but not at all surprising, that nearly every Republican in the legislature put politics ahead of people and voted against helping Louisiana families,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “At every opportunity, the GOP legislature has failed the test of leadership and fought any effort to ease the burden of Louisiana’s working families.”

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LA GOP Fails Women and Working Families, Twice in One Hearing

BATON ROUGE – Today, the Republican-dominated House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations voted to kill bills aimed at addressing women’s pay equity and the dangerously low state minimum wage. When given the opportunity to address the inequality that ranks our state at dead last in the entire country for gender pay equity, Rep. Lenar Whitney and six other Republicans voted to kill the bill. Despite the fact that women make up more than half our workforce, the state GOP once again stood against guaranteeing our mothers and our daughters equal pay for equal work.

Immediately on the heels of their party-line vote to deny women equal pay, the Republicans on the labor committee continued their war on working people with a vote to kill an increase in the minimum wage. In a state where one in three tipped workers is trying to support a family, the GOP’s callous vote against raising the wage represents an attack on the families they are were elected to serve.

“Less than 48 hours after Rep. Whitney railed against discrimination against women, today she cast the deciding vote to kill pay equity,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “She demonstrated that her threshold for acceptable discrimination against women is quite high.”

He concluded: “Time and time again we see the state GOP voting against what the people of Louisiana want and thinking they are going to get away with it. Voters will have something to say about that in October.”

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Rep. Sam Jones Leads Support for Cost of Living Adjustment

BATON ROUGE – This week, Rep. Sam Jones (D- Franklin), the Democratic Caucus Whip, led a bipartisan effort in support of HB 42, which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 80-20. The bill offers a much needed, and fully funded, cost of living adjustment (COLA) for public employee retirees. The 1.5 percent adjustment covers retirees in four state retirement systems and is fully funded by excess investment returns. Jones and his colleagues overcame stiff resistance from GOP legislators who would have left the funds to help paper over liabilities created by prior non-payments by the state.

“We’ve reformed and reformed, but always on the backs of the members of these state systems. This COLA is fiscally responsible, fully funded by investment earnings and helps support our retirees and improve our local economies,” said Jones.

The original co-authors of the bill, Reps. Dorothy Sue Hill and John Bel Edwards, were joined by nearly 75 co-authors, with overwhelming support from fellow Democrats. The funds designated to pay for the cost of living adjustment would otherwise sit idle for the next several years if not spent on the much-needed increase for retiree benefits. At the same time, retirement income is proven to help drive local parish economies.

“The only reason to oppose this is if you want to sweep the money for another purpose,” Jones noted. “This was a bipartisan effort, but members of the Democratic Caucus were the driving force behind this move to do what is right, and what makes good fiscal sense for our state and the retirement systems.”

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Jindal Uses Gov.’s Office to Attack Rand Paul, Violate State Law

BATON ROUGE – As Gov. Bobby Jindal and his handlers begin their doomed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, they are already making it clear that neither the demands of Jindal’s day job nor Louisiana state law will stand in the way of his vanity and his ambition. By using the state governor’s office to begin his intra-party mudslinging, Jindal flagrantly violated Article XI, 4 of the Louisiana Constitution, which prohibits the use of public funds to urge “any elector to vote for or against any candidate”.

Ignoring the ongoing struggles in the state legislature to wrestle with the impact of his $1.6 billion budget disaster, Jindal instead used the resources of his office to attack Sen. Rand Paul on foreign policy. Setting aside the staggering hypocrisy of a failed governor like Jindal calling anyone else “unsuited to be Commander-In-Chief,” his illegal use of Louisiana public funds to do his dirty work disqualifies him for higher office right out of the gate.

“Just last week, the Jindal machine was flirting with illegality by blurring the line between fundraisers for his campaign and invited receptions at the governor’s mansion. With this attack on Paul, they blatantly crossed the line into breaking the law,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director for the Louisiana Democratic Party. “We’re calling on the state attorney general to begin an immediate investigation into this flagrant abuse of power and violation of the law. The state constitution is crystal clear on this point: Jindal broke the law. And he hasn’t even officially started his campaign yet!”

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Lenar Whitney Puts Politics Ahead of People As Tax Credit Advances

BATON ROUGE – Today Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger’s plan to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for Louisiana’s working families was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, over the bizarre and manufactured objections of Rep. Lenar Whitney. Whitney’s off-topic, unrelated questions served at once to underscore her disdain for doing the people’s business and her fundamental ignorance concerning immigration policy, tax policy, and the basic mechanics of governance.

While debating a bill that stands to benefit hardworking taxpayers and finally give a tax break to Louisiana families instead of out-of-state corporations, Whitney sought to derail the effort with a baseless appeal to fear and to ignorance. Putting politics ahead of people, as the state GOP is clearly determined to do this session, Whitney tried to turn a conversation about helping working families into an unrelated attack on President Obama— looking to score cheap political points at the expense of working families. That the bill passed despite her fear-mongering and craven pandering is a testament to the common support across party lines for increasing the EITC.

“When Rep. Whitney derailed the hearing by asking about an unrelated executive order on immigration policy, that was irrelevant. But when she insisted she could somehow channel the true intent behind the words of President Reagan, she steered her arguments right off the map,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “There’s a place to hone your stump-speech to the paranoid fringes, but a hearing to bring some needed relief to working Louisiana families is not it.”

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JINDAL: ON THE ROAD IN OKLAHOMA, ON THE RUN FROM HIS FAILED POLICIES

ANYWHERE BUT LOUISIANA, Again – Today, instead of working with the Louisiana Legislature to help address the impact of his $1.6 billion budget deficit, Gov. Bobby Jindal travelled to Oklahoma City on the latest leg of his vanity tour.  Persisting with the same sort of delusional thinking that drove his record of failure at home, Jindal addressed the Southern Republican Leadership Conference with his customary mix of condescension and obfuscation. Touting his latest hypocrisy, an executive order which panders to the extreme right-wing of his party at the expense of Louisiana’s vital tourism industry, Jindal sought to sell the idea of himself as a leader. Louisiana voters know him to be anything but.

Under Jindal, our state has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation. The endemic failure and disastrous financial mismanagement that have been his legacy turned a $1.1 billion budget surplus into a crippling $1.6 billion dollar deficit. Jindal’s failures, and those of the GOP apparatus that supports him, led Moody’s and S&P to drop the state’s credit outlook. His slavish devotion to Grover Norquist and his stubborn, cynical resistance to Medicaid expansion have cost that state more than $52 million in health care funds. Hospitals are closing and our higher education system teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. This is not what leadership looks like.

“Governor Jindal’s record of failure is nothing to be proud of, and while he’s busy running around the country, kissing the ring for out-of-state interests, Louisiana families are hurting,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “It’s hard to imagine a worse candidate for president than an executive with such a dismal track record at home.”

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