gender wage gap

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This afternoon, Louisiana’s full Senate considers the Equal Pay Act, which seeks a way to close the gender pay gap. Louisiana women earn — on average -- 65 cents for every dollar Louisiana men earn.

“We know we’re not doing something right, if we’re on the bottom – 51 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C.,” says Julie Schwam Harris with the Legislative Agenda for Women. “If we’re not making progress, we know that the law that currently exists is not adequate for us.”

Louisiana’s gender pay gap has been growing about a penny per year lately.

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 Governor John Bel Edwards appeared before the Senate Labor committee Thursday, to testify on behalf of raising the minimum wage.

“It’s a modest but meaningful increase: $8.00 an hour, and then $8.50 an hour,” the governor stated.

He also spoke in support of the Equal Pay Act.

“Louisiana has the largest pay gap in the country, with women earning 65-cents on the dollar, compared to men,” Edwards explained.

Both bills are part of the governor’s legislative agenda, and the issues figured largely in his campaign last year.

Louisiana’s Senate approved a bill requiring private businesses to provide equal pay for equal work, and setting up a mechanism for enforcement.

“This bill is important to our wives, our mothers, and our daughters. But it’s equally important to our fathers and sons,” said New Orleans Senator J. P. Morrell. “The message we’re sending to people around this state is that we believe that people should be paid equal pay for equal work.”

The debate over Senator Edwin Murray’s SB 219 was fierce, with the business lobby pushing lawmakers to vote no.

“All we’re doing with this bill is we are putting one more little nail in the coffin of businesses across the state,” said Senator Jack Donahue.

Pope Francis called the gender pay gap a "pure scandal" in remarks Wednesday on marriage and family.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that Francis' remarks, at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, are some of his most forceful yet in favor of women.

Francis raised his voice as he made a plea for an end to the situation in which men typically earn more than women for performing the same task.

Money and politics don't always make for polite conversation, but President Obama tried to tackle both at the White House on Tuesday.

Obama signed a pair of executive orders aimed at encouraging conversation about men's and women's pay scales. It's a talk that Democrats hope will yield political gains this year.

It also raised questions, though, about how the administration pays its own people.

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