Senate committee kills La. minimum wage bill with party-line vote

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With a party-line vote, a Senate panel killed a bill Wednesday increasing the minimum wage in Louisiana.

Three Democrats voted for the boost to minimum wage, while seven Republicans voted against. The same panel effectively killed a similar measure last year.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, would have boosted the minimum wage to $8 per hour in 2018 and then to $8.50 starting in 2019. Louisiana currently uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which has been in place since 2009.

Supporters argued boosting the minimum wage would lift people out of poverty and make them less reliant on government services.

"Let's help the little man sometimes. We always help the big boys," said Sen. Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport, who supported the measure.

Business lobbyists, who opposed the measure, warned the measure could force layoffs. Some Republican senators argued that the government should not be sanctioning a pay raise, particularly during economic hard times.

"In the United States of America, people who aren't being paid enough in a particular job have a right to get better skills and move to a job where they can be paid more money," said Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville.

Analysis from the Louisiana Budget Project shows if the bill were put into effect, about 85,000 Louisiana workers would get an immediate pay raise. About 18 percent of those individuals are single parents.

In a statement, the governor, who supported the bill, said he was "disappointed" by how the panel voted.

"We talk a lot about family values in Louisiana, but when the legislature had the opportunity to actively value families, it failed," Gov. John Bel Edwards wrote. "An overwhelming number of people in Louisiana support raising the minimum wage, and we will continue to work to lift them up until the legislature agrees."

similar bill got through one committee, but then floundered in this same Senate committee last year. It never made it to the House.

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