BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The House Labor and Industrial Relations committee approved a bill that strengthens equal pay to employees of different genders to the same job. The bill was surprisingly endorsed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, who traditionally opposes this type of legislation. LABI's support raised the ire of one committee member.
"It seems strange to me that now LABI is supporting a bill but never offered an opportunity for anyone else to bring forth some kind of resolution to this because now someone else is offering it and it kind of disturbs me," says Pat Smith D-Baton Rouge.
But the bill's author Rep. Julie Stokes R-Kenner said she reached out to LABI when drafting the legislation. "I think LABI'S main concern was always that possibility of unintentional discrimination and so when that was removed and when you remove the potential cause of action their objections fade away," says Stokes.
But a frustrated Pat Smith lashed out. "Our state is not ready and it has never been ready and I don't think it will ever be ready. I don't think it will be ready before I die. In order to take on the issues that we have in this state of not embracing diversity, not embracing equal pay, and not embracing the fact that there are individuals suffering in this state because of all of these social ill's and we bring them to the table and we try to surface over it. I'm just getting a little bit tired of it," said Pat Smith.
The bill now moves to the full House.