Recently in Louisiana, paid family and medical leave has been a prominent topic of conversation. In 2021, the State’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Task Force was created to study paid family and medical leave policies for the Pelican State, and last year in 2022 the state allocated funds toward an actuarial study to model options for a state-administered paid family and medical leave insurance program. This work has continued this legislative session, as the legislature weighed the Louisiana Family and Medical Leave Benefits Act (“H.B. 596”), which would establish a comprehensive paid family and medical leave (“PFML”) insurance program in Louisiana. A Better Balance is proud to have worked alongside coalition partners to draft the bill and provide technical and legal support to ensure that the proposed program would protect Louisiana’s most vulnerable community members.
ABB’s Louisiana-based Legal Fellow, Carmen McCoy, joined our coalition partners and other advocacy groups at a press conference on May 17th to show the great base of support for H.B. 596 and establishing a PFML program in the state. Speakers emphasized the dire need for paid leave in the state so that Louisianans would no longer need to choose between their financial or physical well-being.
The following day on Thursday, May 18th, ABB attended the legislative committee hearing on H.B. 596, where Southern Office Policy Manager, Feroza Freeland, testified as to the business benefits of PFML, and explained how 11 states and Washington D.C. have already established successful PFML programs. In her testimony, Freeland also noted that young adults—millions of whom are caregivers—disproportionately work in jobs that are less likely to provide paid leave, and explained how H.B. 596 would reduce barriers to entering and remaining in the workforce, especially for young adults who are just starting out in their careers. Independent consultants Paul Correia and Michael Vorgetts testified to the fiscal viability of a PFML insurance program in the state and explained that under H.B. 596, an employer could provide paid family and medical leave for just $200 per year for an employee who earns $50,000 annually. Additional speakers at the hearing ranged from doctors to cancer survivors, all of whom addressed how paid family and medical leave would benefit families throughout the State of Louisiana. Importantly, all testimony during the hearing was in favor of moving H.B. 596 forward.
While H.B. 596 was voluntarily deferred to next session, the press conference and hearing were exciting first steps on the path towards establishing a statewide PFML program in Louisiana. The necessity for PFML in Louisiana remains constant, and Louisiana has positioned itself as a leader in the South on this important issue. ABB will continue to advocate alongside our coalition partners for paid family and medical leave for all Louisianans.