A bill that would seek to bring the paychecks of men and women doing the same or similar jobs into balance has moved forward in the Louisiana Senate's Labor Committee. The "Equal Pay Bill" or Senate Bill 254 hopes to dispel compensation inequities based upon gender.

Currently in Louisiana for every dollar a male worker earns a female worker doing the same or similar job would earn .65 cents. That is one of the largest pay disparities in the nation according to the United States Census.

J.P. Morrell, Senator from New Orleans, believes this is not only unfair, it's just plain wrong.

The message we are sending to our mothers, to our wives, to our daughters, is that their work product is 35% less valuable than men.

Morrell's comments to the Louisiana Radio Network were echoed by Governor John Bel Edwards who addressed the Senate Labor Committee in a personal message.

Louisiana has the largest pay gap in the country. That ought to be unacceptable to all of us.

While I believe that most of us can agree with the concept behind this legislation. Dawn Starns with the National Federation of Independent Businesses does not support it. Starns believes the legislation is unnecessary since equal pay laws already exist.

We believe that adding an additional layer of law and litigation opportunities has a negative impact on small business owners.

One of the sticking points that could lead to litigation on this particular topic is the definition of what is comparable work and comparable worth. While many men and women do share the same or similar titles in the workplace, do those titles automatically mean the two employees have the same level of responsibility? The only one making money off the answer to that question will be the lawyers, both the male and female kind.

The bill will now move on to the Senate floor for open discussion and debate.

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