Congressman-Elect Troy Carter Helped Author Variety of Important Bills Before Leaving LA Senate

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Even though Troy Carter resigned from the Louisiana Senate last week in advance of being sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives, the eight pieces of legislation he authored or co-authored in 2021 are making their way through the Louisiana Legislature.    

SB 61, which Carter co-authored along with Senators Regina Barrow and Jay Luneau and prohibits race discrimination based on natural hairstyles, was unanimously approved by the State Senate yesterday. The bill outlaws discrimination in employment based on hair texture or protective hairstyles historically associated with race. 

Protective hairstyles are defined as such natural hairstyles as braids, locks and twists. The legislation bill further amplifies present law which already prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. SB 61 will be referred to a house committee soon. 

In a tweet earlier today, Carter said “Yesterday, the State Senate unanimously passed my bill to ban discrimination based on natural hairstyle.  Discrimination based on hairstyle is often nothing more than thinly veiled racial discrimination and this bill is an important step forward for our state.”

Other marquee legislation Carter introduced this session includes SB 49 which seeks to increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour beginning January 1, 2022.  In subsequent years, the minimum wage would increase by the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index. An increase in the state’s minimum wage would also result in a corresponding increase in the Medicaid home and community-based services reimbursement rate. Senator Regina Barrow is co-author of SB 49, which is pending in the Senate Finance Committee. 

Women around the state are excited about SB 72 which Carter is co-sponsoring along with Senators Regina Barrow, Gerald Boudreaux, Jay Luneau, Beth Mizell, J. Rogers Pope, Rick Ward and Greg Tarver.  

It would create an Office on Women’s Health within the Louisiana Department of Health.  Under the legislation, the Office on Women’s Health would be responsible for leading, consolidating and coordinating efforts across the state geared toward improving women’s health outcomes through policy, education, evidence-based practices, programs and services. It would be headed by an Assistant Secretary of Health appointed by Governor Edwards and shall include the necessary staff to carry out the duties and functions of the office. 

Among the offices’ goals will be to educate and advocate for women’s health by establishing, either on its own or in partnership with other entities, appropriate forums, programs or initiatives designed to educate the public regarding women’s health with an emphasis on preventive health and healthy lifestyles.  

The new office would also identify, coordinate and establish priorities for programs, services and resources for women’s health issues and concerns. It would also collect, classify and analyze relevant research as well as develop and recommend funding and program activities to educate the public on health needs throughout a woman’s life and on chronic conditions that significantly affect women such as heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. 

Educational activities will focus on access to health care, poverty and women’s health, health disparities, and the leading causes or morbidity and mortality for women. SB 72 will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee.  

Carter also introduced SB 35 which prohibits measures of student growth from being used to evaluate teacher performance or effectiveness for the 2020-2021 school year. Many of Louisiana’s students attended classes online rather than in person this school year. Not all students were able to fully participate on a consistent basis due to lack of computers, internet connectivity and other factors. 

Student achievement was impacted statewide. Carter’s bill would exempt the 2020-2021 school year from the present law which stipulates that student achievement and growth guide teacher, school and school district evaluations.    

Another education-related bill, SB 51, would create a $1,000 yearly individual income tax credit for teachers and early childhood educators. It is pending before the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee where co-author Sen. Greg Tarver will lead the bill’s discussion. 

SB 51 would benefit individuals who hold a valid Louisiana a teaching certificate issued by the state Department of Education and who teach in a Louisiana state-approved facility including a public elementary or secondary school, a public elementary or secondary laboratory school that is operated by a public college or university or a non-public elementary or secondary school approved the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  It also applies to those who currently hold an early childhood ancillary certificate and employed by a state licensed early learning center.   

Also of benefit to students is SB 56 which would provide an individual income tax credit for individuals repaying student loan debt. Starting in the 2021 tax year, taxpayers who have incurred student loan debt in their name had have made payments on the loan during the taxable year shall be eligible to claim the credit. In the case of a joint return, if both taxpayers have incurred student loan debt and have made payments on the loan during the taxable year, each taxpayer is eligible to claim the credit. 

To qualify, the student loan must be a federally-guaranteed or state-guaranteed loan for the purpose of postsecondary education.  The amount of tax credit shall be the actual amount of the student loan payment that year or $1,000, whichever is less. SB 56 is pending before the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee and will be handled by Sen. Greg Tarver.  

Also awaiting a hearing in Revenue and Fiscal Affairs is SB 243 which would create an apprenticeship tax credit program. This legislation addresses a major impediment in Louisiana’s economy – the lack of an adequate number of people in the workforce with sufficient on the job training to find and keep good paying jobs already present and those that would be here if more of the workforce was of higher skill level or experience.  

The new tax credit would provide an incentive for businesses to employ apprentices and provide an additional step in creating and maintaining a better educated workforce. For an employer to claim the credit, the eligible apprentice must be employed for a minimum of 250 hours during the taxable period. The employer would receive a credit equal to one dollar and twenty-five cents per hour of employment for a maximum credit of $1,250 eligible per apprentice. 

The Board of Regents will create an Advisory Council to establish guidelines for the program. Senator Ronnie John is the legislation’s co-author. 

Finally, SB 50, which strengthens rules to determine the ownership of a domestic animal, has also passed the Senate and is awaiting referral to a House Committee. Currently anyone who finds a lost animal is bound to make a diligent effort to locate its owner and return the animal. If a diligent effort is made and the owner is not found within three years, the finder acquires ownership.  

The proposed law requires the possessor of the domestic animal to prove that the animal, which acquired, lacked a microchip or other owner-identifying information such as a collar, rabies tag or tattoo to claim ownership. The presence of such information creates a rebuttable presumption that the possessor has not satisfied the requirement for ownership as stated in the current law. The Louisiana SPCA is located in Carter’s district. State Rep. Gary Carter, one of the bill’s co-authors, will be handling the legislation in the House. Senators Joe Bouie and Greg Tarver are also co-authors.   

Qualifying begins Wednesday, May 5, to select a new senator who will fill the remainder of Troy Carter’s term. 

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