New Orleans, Louisiana 2021-04-13 17:00:00 –
Of the 144 seats in the Louisiana State Legislature, the Democratic Party occupies 47 seats, with even fewer members supporting “progressive” ideas.
At the federal level, progressives like Senator Bernie Sanders are advocating minimum wage increases, universal health insurance, and criminal justice reform, hoping to move towards their goals under the Biden administration. I am. But in red Louisiana, a few progressives often find that their stance must be relaxed, as their ideas rarely pass through Republican-run parliament.
Most of the dozens or so of the most progressive members belong to the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, representing the low to middle income portion of the state’s largest city.
“There are many lobbyists who represent special interests, but the Louisiana people don’t have anyone at the table to represent them,” said D-New Orleans Rep. Matthew Willard. “There is no high-paying lobbyist on behalf of people.”
Willard was elected in 2019, including Mandy Laundry Legislature, D-New Orleans, and another progressive.
“Many members of Baton Rouge-I don’t think they understand me,” she said. “I’m like an alien to them.”
At a legislative assembly that began on Monday, Willard seeks easier access to midwives to help reduce the state’s high mother and infant mortality rates. He also wants to establish a state income tax deduction for parents with children under the age of 18.
Progressivists also support other proposals that would benefit the white working class, such as raising the minimum wage, but many of its members have voted for the Republican Party. They are also calling for changes in the criminal justice system and wanting to bring more voters to their side.
The split between moderate Democrats and progressives was recently federal-level when eight senators voted against Washington’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 per hour. Appeared in. Louisiana is one of five states with no minimum wage at the state level, and the federal government hasn’t risen since 2009.
“If the federal minimum wage were raised to $ 15 an hour, about half of Louisiana’s workforce would have been raised,” Willard said. Louisiana defaults to a federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 per hour, which Willard said is “totally unacceptable.”
State legislature Royce Dupresis of D-New Orleans said low minimum wages would have a negative impact on society.
“It seems to me that it makes more sense to want people to have a living wage to take care of their families, stay home in the evening to help with their homework, and help with Little League. Don’t let the kids get into the car, “he said.
Governor John Bel Edwards made several attempts to set the state’s minimum wage to $ 10 per hour, but failed to win due to Republican opposition. He plans to try again this year, but Laundry doesn’t think he will succeed.
“Especially in the Democratic majority, it’s more likely to happen at the federal level. We haven’t seen it happen in our state,” she said.
Jan Moller, secretary-general of the non-profit Louisiana budget project, has shown widespread support for raising the minimum wage across Louisiana parties, ages and races in polls since 2012. Said. However, the bill usually dies on the House Labor Relations Commission. There, restaurants and other low-wage industry lobbyists are against it.
Another focus of progressives is to drive further changes in the state’s criminal justice system.
Realizing that Louisiana became the world’s imprisoned capital and costing housing for so many prisoners, Democrats and Republicans agreed to expel thousands of nonviolent criminals from prison in 2017. ..
However, according to the Department of Justice and Statistics, Louisiana in 2019 still has the highest imprisonment rate of any state, with 683 imprisoned per 100,000 inhabitants. The next states are Oklahoma (639) and Mississippi (636).
“We put more people in jail than anywhere else, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been poor here,” Laundry said. “It’s a waste of resources in the sense that we’re wasting money in jail, but we’re also wasting real people.”
“It’s not that the Louisiana people are more dangerous than anyone else. There is nothing that causes the Louisiana people to commit more crimes,” she added.
Duplessis wants to change that Louisiana is one of six states sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Louisiana detained 4,377 prisoners in 2020 with life imprisonment without parole, according to the Sentencing Project, an investigative and advocacy group in Washington, DC.
“I don’t think everyone should be released, but I think everyone should have the opportunity to come to the review to assess whether they have rehabilitated,” Dupresis said. It was.
“We are a state that promotes Christian values in our faith,” he added. “And some of the Christian values I last checked on believe in redemption. Discuss the issue of redemption,” he said.
“The Louisiana Democrats can do a better job with our message to let the people of Louisiana know that we are working for them,” Willard said.
In a conservative state, Democrats are often hurt by cultural and religious issues, such as the party’s pro-abortion attitude. Willard sees Louisiana Democrats as more diverse.
For example, D-Monroe’s Senator Katrina Jackson submitted a bill in 2019 to outlaw abortion after a heartbeat is detected. Edwards, the governor of the Democratic Party, the only professional life in the United States, has signed the bill.
“We have always been a big tent party,” Willard said. “We are not the type of party that is at the heart of American democracy and is censored or called out if you oppose or oppose it. I think it’s anti-democratic. . “
Laundry, one of the few white progressive Democrats in Congress, enthusiastically supports his choice. Laundry also drafted a bill for the 2021 session to decriminalize prostitution. Her bill will help individuals who are trafficked or who encounter violence during consensual sex go to police without fear of being arrested.
Laundry, as well as her idea, is one of only 26 women in Congress, so she thinks it seems foreign to other lawmakers.
“With as much support as I can get from my district, I can throw things at me elsewhere,” she said. “It’s mainly from men, mostly from white men, but not perfect. I get a little from white women around the state. But there are many.”
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