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Louisiana legislature turns down minimum wage increase bills

By the end of 2014, it is predicted that 30 states will have raised the minimum wage above the federally mandated $7.25 an hour.  Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already have.

But don’t count Louisiana among them.  The Labor and Industrial Relations Committee has turned thumbs down on all bills that would increase the minimum wage for Louisianians employed on an hourly basis.

And it also voted against legislation that would have allowed local governments to set their own minimum wage.

lou BurnettProponents of the increase contended that raising the minimum wage would help the working class and the economy. They pointed out that a full-time minimum wage worker makes about $15,730 a year, and that’s not nearly enough to support a family of two.

Opponents of the raise contended that it would hurt small businesses struggling from the recession, drive up the cost of goods and services, and create job losses.

Votes in committee largely divided along party lines with Democrats supporting the increase while no Republican supported raises in the minimum wage.

At the federal level, the minimum wage was last increased on July 24, 2009, when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour, the last step of a three-step increase approved by Congress in 2007.  However, before 2007, the  minimum  wage  had  been  stuck  at  $5.15  per hour for 10 years.


Faith-based event set

The 2014 Faith-Based and Grass-Roots Community Sixth Annual Leadership Awards Luncheon and Workshops has been scheduled for Thursday, May 8.

The event, sponsored by Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin and the district attorneys of northwest Louisiana, will be held at the Downtown Shreveport Hotel, 102 Lake Street.

The keynote speaker at the noon luncheon will be Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell.

Workshops and lunch cost $15.  Workshops will be held on Human Trafficking, Child Internet Predators, and Grant Writing and Funding Sources.

Register online at www.26thda.org.  For more information, call 318-965-3793 or send an e-mail to lrclemons@aol.com.


Another hot seat for the GOP

Once again, the Louisiana Republican Party, as well as the national party, finds itself on a political hot seat – thanks to U.S. Rep Vance McAllister.

The newly elected married congressman from the 5th District was caught on tape kissing a staffer in his Monroe office, who is also married – and to a longtime friend.

Because McAllister ran on a platform of Christian and family values, the media is in a feeding frenzy over this development.  And not just the local media.  It has become fodder for national cable news.

That kind of publicity is certainly not good in an election year. So Roger Villere, chairman of the LAGOP, has called for McAllister to resign.  So has Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

But that has created another problem and has brought to the forefront the “serious sin” of  Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, whose phone number was found in 2007 in the client list of a D.C. madam who ran a prostitution ring.

Neither Villere nor Jindal called for Vitter’s resignation at that time, so some journalists and  bloggers are asking if there is a double standard within the LAGOP.

Vitter didn’t need his situation dredged up again since he is preparing to run for governor in 2015, but it was inevitable that it would be.

And there are those conspiracy theorists, who believe that McAllister was set up by his own party.  Their reasoning is that he defeated the LAGOP’s establishment candidate, Republican state Sen. Neil Riser, in the special election to replace U.S. Rep.  Rodney Alexander, who resigned to become the Louisiana Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

And McAllister is not exactly in lock-step with Republicans on all  issues. He supports the federal expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana, which Jindal has steadfastly refused to do, and he is not totally against Obamacare.

Fueling this fire is the fact that Alexander is saying he may consider running for his old seat.

Reaction  from  his constituents has been mixed.  But it appears they are as intrigued by who leaked the tape and why as they are about the incident itself.

So far, McAllister is hunkered down with his family and has said through staff that he is not going to resign.  Needless to say, this situation is far from over.


Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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