Equal pay bill passes legislature

The state Senate on Tuesday gave final passage to a bill that would guarantee equal pay for women working in state government.

Tuesday’s vote represents the near-end of a weeks-long fight by Senate Bill 153’s sponsor, state Sen. Ed Murray to close the pay gap in Louisiana. The measure now goes to the governor’s desk.

An earlier version of the Equal Pay for Women Act would have guaranteed women who work in the private sector equal pay. But the bill was watered down along the legislative process as opponents thought it could expose businesses to costly lawsuits.

Murray, D-New Orleans, has argued Louisiana ranks 49th in the U.S. when it comes to equal pay for women. Only Wyoming is worse, he’s said.

The bill received vocal support Monday afternoon from a number of Democrats including state Reps. Kenny Cox, of Natchitoches, and Jarred Brossett, of New Orleans, who called the bill a step forward for the state.