- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
- 2/7/17: The Louisiana governor is being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and two other firms over the state's public defender system.
Bayou Bridge Pipeline
According to materials from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a 162-mile-long "Bayou Bridge Pipeline" has been proposed to "transport oil to to refineries and export facilities in Louisiana. The oil is for export." Almost a dozen South Louisiana parishes would be affected, including 600 acres of wetlands and hundreds of freshwater sources. One such affected freshwater source would be the Bayou LaFourche, which currently provides drinking water for 300,000 people. More information here.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Louisiana lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- No bills identified.
Harmful bills proposed by Louisiana lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- No harmful bills identified.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
- Enacted "Blue Lives Matter" Law, which was intended to make police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel protected classes under the state’s hate crime statute. It also makes resisting arrest or getting physical with an officer a hate crime, which is a felony. A charge of resisting arrest can also be used to validate excessive force or to cover up unnecessary aggression on the part of the officer.
- Supports community policing in New Orleans, but has yet to take steps to remove state police.
- Supports rehab for criminals, but has also been in favor of being tougher on crime and enforcing more jail time.
- Opposes legalizing marijuana (and has focused on the taxes gained by states that legalized it in order to sway public opinion) and has not addressed the disproportionate impact this has on people of color.
- Has a background of being antiabortion and against Planned Parenthood, and has pushed for alternatives.
- Has more recently said that women should have the right to choose.
- Has said that he does not personally support same-sex marriage but that states must act according to the Supreme Court decision.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 30 days before Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. A photo ID is requested every time you vote.
- Louisiana's 42nd State House District elections will be held March 25 (primary) and April 29 (general), 2017.
- Louisiana 8th State House District elections will be held March 25 (primary) and April 29 (general), 2017.
- Louisiana 92nd State House District elections will be held March 25 (primary) and April 29 (general), 2017.
- New Orleans's Democratic mayor is up for reelection in 2017. The Primary election is October 14, the general election November 18. The deadline for filing is July 14.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 518,000 people in Louisiana (or 11.1% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 558,000 people (or 11.9% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/27/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.)
- The number of uninsured people in Louisiana is predicted to be 368,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 825,000, a 124.0% increase.
- Louisiana is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Louisiana could pay up to 37% more for the same coverage as men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, at least 30% of non-elderly adults in Louisiana stand to be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
- Louisiana stands to lose 37,000 jobs, more than $600 million in tax revenue, and tens of billions of dollars in business output and state productivity under a repeal.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Louisiana could pay $816 more in 2018.
- 93 people have been killed by police in the state of Louisiana from 2013 through 2016.
- 50% of the people killed by police were black.
- The New Orleans Police Department has a homicide rate of 23.267 for all people, and 24.41 for black people. The Baton Rouge Police Department has a homicide rate of 21.787 for all people, and 40.15 for black people..
- A Pew Research Study provides that there are 70,000 undocumented immigrants in the state of Louisiana.
- Undocumented workers make up $421 million GSP (Gross State Product) in Louisiana.
- In Louisiana, immigrant-owned businesses generated $691 million in 2015.
- Undocumented immigrants pay $85.9 million in Louisiana state and local taxes.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Louisiana does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.
- Undocumented students cannot attend a public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- Louisiana does not comply with the E-Verify system, in which employers are allowed to verify employment eligibility by applicants' legal status.
- Undocumented students and DACA grantees may enroll in in-state colleges.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. 3,114 people in Louisiana have benefited from the order to date.
- In 2013, immigrants made up 5.4% (118,068 people) of Louisiana’s workforce.
- If the state deported all undocumented immigrants, Louisiana would lose $947 million in economic activity and 6,660 jobs filled by undocumented immigrants.
- If all undocumented immigrants were given legal status, they would pay $103 million in state and local taxes.
- People in Louisiana are requested to show an ID in order to vote (e.g. a state driver’s license, an ID card or another form of picture ID). If they do not have a photo ID, they must sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.
- The New Orleans Police Department decided they would not initiate investigations, take action or make inquiries about someone who was perceived not to have legal status. These tasks are allotted to ICE only, and action is only taken if ICE requests that NOPD do so.
- New Orleans is the one city in Louisiana that is described as a "sanctuary city." The term "sanctuary city" is used to describe places that limit how much they help federal law enforcement (usually ICE) with removals (also known as deportations). On February 28, 2016, New Orleans adopted a new policy of no longer participating in immigration sweeps or detaining suspected illegal immigrants.
- In 2016, Louisiana resettled 15 refugees.
- Catholic Charities in Louisiana works to find employment for refugees. Individuals are allotted a one-time allowance of $1,125 to be used for housing. Refugees can also receive refugee cash assistance in the sum of $335 a month for eight months. Refugees' eligibility for food stamps is still unclear.
- At the suggestion of the Office of the Secretary of State, the Louisiana Legislature authorized online voter registration in a bill signed by Governor Bobby Jindal in June 2009. The new system went live on April 1, 2010. Officials did not officially announce the program, and it did not see substantial use over the first few months, but initial feedback was positive.
- The Louisiana House heard a bill in 2016 to introduce automatic voter registration through the DMV.
- In 2014, Louisiana incarcerated 68,972, with a probation population of 41,761 and a parole population of 27,615.
- 3,142 people are incarcerated in private prisons in Louisiana.
- 774 juveniles are in custody in Louisiana.
- Of the prison population, 4,657 people were serving life sentences, and 4,637 were serving life sentences without parole.
- In Louisiana, a black person is 4.0 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $814 million.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Louisiana residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 118,000
- Adults and children: 340,000
- Children: 206,000
- In 2015, an average of 389,519 households and 859,738 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Louisiana. In 2011, approximately 19% of the population of Louisiana was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Louisiana household was $270 per household and $122 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 13,359 households, including 5,657 families and 11,315 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Louisiana was $240 in 2014. Average benefits in Louisiana have fallen in value by 17.2% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 32,833 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In 2015, there were 11,947 Social Security recipients who received an average of $275.21 per person, for a total of $3,288,000.
- 145,600 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Louisiana had 35 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Louisiana, there were 3,994 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 243 families, 400 veterans, 345 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 570 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Louisiana received $628 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Louisiana, more than 97,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Louisiana households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Louisiana's infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for dams, but rated roads and bridges as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 29% of Louisiana's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 62% of Louisiana's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $408 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Louisiana has two Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, both centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 475,000 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were five abortion providers in Louisiana in 2015.
- In 2014, 4.1 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Louisiana had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is a 24-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Abortion is prohibited after 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Mandated counseling includes misleading information.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
On July 1, 2016, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the restrictions on abortion passed in 2016 by Louisiana, which has the highest number of restrictions of any state. The lawsuit challenges measures that would increase the state's mandatory delay for women seeking abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours, and a measure that would ban the most common method used in abortions that occur during the second trimester.
The following measures are also being challenged:
- A measure that could ban medical abortion
- A measure to ban abortion in cases of genetic abnormalities
- A measure limiting abortion's availability by restricting the types of physicians who could offer abortions
- A measure prohibiting any state or local government agency from entering into a funding agreement with any abortion provider or with any third party contracted with an abortion provider
- A measure that would put in place a prison term of hard labor for a person who receives reimbursement for expenses relating to the donation of fetal tissue for scientific research in accord with a woman's wishes after an abortion.
Women and Wage Equality
- Women in Louisiana make about $0.68 on average for every dollar paid to men. This is $0.12 below the national average, which is $0.80.
- African American women make $0.48 for every dollar paid to white men. The national average is $0.63. Latina women in Louisiana make $0.51 for every dollar paid to men. The national average is $0.54.
- Women make up 19.6% of those living in poverty. Of that figure, 49.6% are single mothers and 15.2% are women 65 and older. The national averages are 36.5% and 15.2%, respectively.
Domestic Violence in Louisiana
- In 2010, Louisiana ranked 4th in the nation for femicide; 2/3 of these murders were committed using guns.
- 81% of female homicides in Louisiana are committed by a partner or ex-partner.
- There has been at least one domestic homicide in every parish in Louisiana.
- Over 5000 adult women per year living in Louisiana will experience domestic violence.
Religious freedom law
Religious freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. A State Preservation of Religious Freedom Act was enacted in Louisiana in 2010 for that purpose, but it has recently been used to say that the rights of individuals or business owners are violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people. Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order in 2016 rescinding the prior "Marriage and Conscience" order, which forbade any action against someone refusing to take part in or acknowledge a same-sex marriage, but the 2016 order does specify that religious organizations are exempt from certain nondiscrimination requirements and that this order does not supersede or contradict the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act in any way.
Louisiana lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit, and jury selection. The state does have a nondiscrimination policy for state employees.
Louisiana has a prohibition-of-surrogacy law, which impacts LGBTQ+ individuals who want to become biological parents, and lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in surrogacy and foster care. It does not have laws on second-parent adoption, nor parental presumption for same-sex couples or consent to inseminate (meaning that in the case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as a parent).
Hate crime laws
Louisiana does include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group, and requires reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Louisiana does not have laws protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from bullying. It does have LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies, but does not offer comprehensive LGBTQ+ youth protections, such as transgender inclusion in sports, protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ homeless youth, or LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws. Louisiana does have school laws that criminalize youth, which tend to disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ students,  as well as laws that restrict the inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools.
Health and safety laws
While Louisiana collects health-related data about LGBTQ+ people, it still maintains sodomy laws (criminalizing the act), and laws criminalizing HIV/AIDS. The State does not include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges and does not ban insurance exclusion for trans health care. It does not include transgender health care in state Medicaid and does not provide inclusive health benefits for trans state employees. Louisiana does not allow gender marker changes on drivers' licenses or birth certificates.
- HIV criminalization laws are those that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to “knowingly expose” another person to HIV—in some states, this means that it is illegal not to disclose HIV-positive status to a sex partner, but many laws criminalize behaviors that are unlikely to lead to transmission. Because the laws focus on disclosure, not actual transmission, they serve no real purpose. All states have other, non-HIV-specific laws that can be used to prosecute transmission of HIV, so these laws just needlessly single out and stigmatize HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” It also allows the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” HIV criminalization laws also disproportionately target people of color, mainly African Americans, and gay men.
- Louisiana is ranked 28th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $5,905 per student.
- As of 2013, Louisiana ranked 26th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $51,381 per year.
- 81% of students in Louisiana attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 106% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 7.2% of total public school enrollment.
- Louisiana's overall graduation rate is 75%, which is below the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 80%
- Latino: 84%
- Black: 79%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 89%
- American Indian: 84%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 84%
- Limited English Proficient: 66%
- Students with Disabilities: 71%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Louisiana has no state minimum wage, so the minimum wage in the state is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
- Louisiana has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Louisiana has no state law for paid family leave.
- Louisiana has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all the workers they represent. These laws are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Louisiana is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Louisiana does not have a public policy exemption. A public policy exemption means that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Louisiana does not allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Louisiana does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- More than 76% of Louisiana’s electricity generation comes from fossil fuels. Nuclear power accounted for almost 19%.
- Louisiana has 12 sites on the National Priorities List.
- In 2014, Black populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—70—compared to an overall index of 66 and a White index of 63.
- In 2012, Native American adults in Louisiana were most likely to have asthma (12%), compared to 7% overall and 6.5% of the White population.
- Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority just finished its Coastal Master Plan, which recommended $50 billion in investments to address Louisiana’s 7,700 miles of disappearing shoreline. Since 1932, Louisiana has lost 1,800 square miles of coast.
- In 2016, the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw became America’s first climate refugees. The tribe was awarded $48 million by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to move more inland.
- Environmentalists have fought drilling in the Lake Peigneur natural gas storage caverns, which played host to a huge industrial disaster in which 11 barges were sucked underwater. Drilling stopped for a while, but later resumed, and there is now a high possibility of oil and gas to leach into the freshwater in the aquifer.
- A series of environmental reviews sank a controversial drilling operation in St. Tammany Parish in 2016.
- Saltwater has been seeping toward freshwater wells used for drinking water in the Baton Rouge fault.
- In 2016, the 34-acre Bayou Corne sinkhole was declared no longer a risk to the public four years after one of brine producer Texas Brine’s underwater salt dome caverns collapsed and released seeping, flammable methane gas.
- The relevant environmental agency in Louisiana is the Department of Environmental Quality.
- Louisiana environmentalists are currently protesting the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the Atchafalaya Basin, America’s largest natural swamp and a heritage site. The pipeline represents the last 163 miles of Dakota Access and would cut through Cajun territory, which depends on wetlands for subsistence.
- 14.9% of Louisiana's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in Louisiana is 33.0%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Louisiana have a 73.0% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Tables R1811 & B18120]
- Approximately 16.8% of eligible voters in Louisiana have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Louisiana, 30.0% live in poverty, as opposed to 15.8% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 30.4%, as opposed to 31.5% for non-disabled children. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130)
- In Louisiana, 7.3% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
- Break Out: ending criminalization of LGBTQ+ youth in New Orleans
Environmental and environmental-justice advocacy and organizing groups
- Alliance for Affordable Energy
- America’s Wetland Foundation
- Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
- Gulf Restoration Network
- Louisiana Bucket Brigade
- Louisiana Environmental Action Network
- Louisiana Wildlife Federation