State Rep. Freeman Seeks Constituent Advocacy for Pink Tax Bill & Other Legislation

Photo courtesy Aimee Adatto Freeman, Twitter

State Representative Aimee Freeman is asking New Orleans residents to contact members of the House Ways & Means Committee in support of HB 7, known as “The Pink Tax Bill.”  If approved the legislation will remove the sales tax on child and adult diapers and menstrual products.  

“The Pink Tax Bill helps our most marginalized women and families when every dollar counts,” Freeman explained. A lot of people in our state live paycheck to paycheck. The Louisiana Budget Project projects that over 20% of women in Louisiana fall below the poverty line. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that low income families spend up to 14% of their income on diapers and related baby care products.  

“Cash-strapped families should not have to choose between food and diapers for their babies. Girls who cannot afford tampons should not be forced to skip school because they are menstruating. Elderly people on fixed incomes should have every opportunity to live out their days in sanitary conditions.”

Freeman considers HB 7 a fairness issue. “Menstrual products and diapers are not a luxury, and they should not be subject to a luxury tax.  We do not tax other items people need such as prescription medication. We have a moral imperative to make certain basic necessities accessible.”

 “Many advocates provided testimony for HB 7 this past week,” said Freeman. “It will appear in Ways & Means again Monday, May 3. Emailing or calling your legislators in support of ending the pink tax would send a message that this legislation is important. I need everyone’s support and advocacy,” she continued. Freeman is hopeful that HB 7 will become law this year.  

The “Pink Tax Bill” is a follow-up to Freeman’s Act 138 of 2020 which gave parishes the option to exempt  from sales taxes feminine hygiene products and diapers. “Passing Act 138 is one of my most important accomplishments so far,” she explained.  

Other legislation that is part of Freeman 2021 legislative agenda include HB 409, HB 375, HB55, HB282, HB 341, and HB 372. has sponsored this session include HB 409, “The Student Bill” which will provide clear reporting obligations and responsibilities relative to how Louisiana’s public universities address power-based abuse. It also mandates termination of employees who do not follow reporting guidelines.  

Freeman ran for state representative in 2019 because she loves Louisiana and New Orleans. “My husband, West, and I have loved raising our children here. We love walking our dog, Pepper, around our neighborhood. I am passionate about improving our community, and I want to be part of the New Orleans legislative team and work to improve our great city and state.”

Freeman recently started with Problem Solver’s Caucus with Speaker Pro Tempore Tanner D. McGee, a Republican. “The goal of the Problem Solver’s Caucus is to unite and serve Louisiana and focus on the impost important issues to our constituents. Our belief is that we are always stronger when we discuss and consider perspectives and viewpoints. For this session we will work on such internal issues as healthy eating in the Capitol, improving tech so the public can be more informed and paying staff competitively,” she said. 

Freeman believes this is work to do in Baton Rouge. “The state legislature needs more problem solvers rather than party politics. Irrespective to party affiliation, there is a job that needs to be done for our community and for our state. I have been able to pull upon my deep business experience and problem-solve across party lines. Louisiana is ranked 50th in too many categories. It’s time to change that,” Freeman explained.    

Freeman’s HB 409, “The Student Bill,” overhauls current legislation that mandates how Louisiana’s public universities address power-based abuse. It provides a clear designation of employee reporting obligations relative to power-based abuse and a clear reporting process for all responsible employees. The bill calls for the termination of employees who do not complete reporting requirements and the right for survivors to obtain copies of reports related to her/him/themselves. HB 409 has passed off the House floor and is set to be heard by the Senate.  

Other provisions specify that creation of clear memorandums of understand for universities and law enforcement, updated and increased training for employees, an inter-agency policy for student records and update requirements for campus climate surveys and resulting reports.

Under HB 375 sexual assault survivors will have the ability to terminate their leases early and without penalty. It passed off the House floor with no objections and will appear before the Senate Judiciary A Committee in the upcoming weeks. The Louisiana Fair Housing Center is gathering signatures in support of this legislation. 

HB 55 will end the requirement that domestic violence survivors go to a notary to get a temporary restraining order, (TRO). The House Civil Law and Procedure committee passed out this bill without objection last week. Representative Freeman will present the legislation on the House floor Tuesday, May 4.

“In Louisiana, over 60 women are killed by gun violence each year. More homicides occur at separation than any other time. This bill removes unnecessary barriers to safety for victims of domestic violence during the most dangerous points of their lives,” said Freeman.

HB 282 will make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in our state’s housing opportunities.  

HB 341 is local legislation that clarifies which property owners in the Upper Audubon Security District are responsible for the parcel fee. 

HB 372 provides the ability to increase fines and fees on developers operating in the City of New Orleans who continually do not comply with safety and permit regulations.

Freeman has also chosen to co-author HB 353, which expands background checks for gun purchases. “I signed on to this legislation because many of you reach out to me to oppose permit-less carry legislation” she said. 

Freeman opposes HB 542, anti-transgender youth legislation. “I will oppose any legislation that hurts or discriminates against transgender children in our state,” Freeman explained. HB 542 will be heard Tuesday, May 4, before the Education Committee – of which she is a member.  A similar bill, SB 104, was voluntarily deferred in the state Senate after 400 red opposition cards were filed. 

Another controversial bill that was heard by the House Education Committee is HB 654 by Rep. Ray Garofalo that would ban teaching “divisive concepts” in the classroom, including systemic racism and sexism.  “I received opposition emails from more than 100 constituents including one from Chris Dier, 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year whose statement I read in Committee,” said Freeman.       

While Freeman is awaiting additional data before formulating an opinion on redistricting, she does believe that Louisiana should continue to have an open primary system. Louisiana conducts a majority-vote system rather than hold traditional primary elections. If a candidate receives a majority of the votes cast for an office, the candidate wins outright. If, however no candidates reaches that threshold, second round of voting between the top-two vote-getters determines the winner.   

“Voter advocacy is very important in determining the outcome of every piece of legislation. I urge constituents to reach out to me and other legislators to advocate for or against bills you consider important,” Freeman concluded. 

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