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La. Senate gives final approval to equal pay bill

Littice Bacon-Blood, Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- State agencies will be prohibited from paying unequal wages based on gender to their employees for the same job, under a bill that received final passage Tuesday from the Louisiana Senate.

The bill, called the Equal Pay for Women Act, doesn't include private companies. It heads to Gov. Bobby Jindal for consideration.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, sponsor of the proposal, said women in Louisiana routinely make less than men who perform the same jobs.

Murray said more salary disparity exists in the private sector, but he couldn't get the votes for a bill that included private companies. The measure — approved in a 35-2 Senate vote — is limited to "any department, office, division, agency, commission, board, committee or other organizational unit of the state."

In pushing for the bill, Murray said that women in Louisiana make 69 cents for every dollar that men make for performing the same job duties and holding the same title.

However, he said that he is satisfied with the bill's final form, calling it needed progress.

"I've gotten a lot of emails from women around the state who are pleased with it," Murray said. "I'm looking forward to the governor signing it."

Jindal hasn't said whether he'll support the proposal.

Murray said he may consider trying to expand the proposal in a year or two. Senators initially rejected the bill when it included all employers in the state, including those in the private sector. It was then rewritten and restricted to state employees.

The House included an amendment that ensures that the salary comparison is between jobs within the same state agency. Senate approval of that change gave the bill final legislative passage.