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Addendum to the BR Votes EBR Metro Council Candidate Survey

Clarifications to ranked statements #3, #4, #5 & #7

3. LGBTQ individuals and families should be protected locally from discrimination in workplace, housing, and public accommodations. [AGREE]

I agree that LGBTQ individuals and their families should be protected from discrimination in the workplace and housing. Thankfully, the Supreme Court did rule in June that gender identity and sexual orientation were protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination in employment. This means that LGBTQ individuals and their families are protected from job discrimination even in Baton Rouge. Hopefully, a case will soon compel the Supreme Court to rule similarly in regard to the Fair Housing Act. In the interim I could support a local ordinance extending protection from discrimination in housing to LGBTQ individuals and their families.

The question of prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations isn’t as straightforward to me. Federal law does not prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sex. I do believe there is an argument that public accommodations that are publicly-owned—i.e. libraries and parks, etc.—should be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and gender identity, and I could support including such language in a local ordinance.

However, I do not believe it is within our rights to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in privately-owned public accommodations—i.e. privately-owned restaurants and retail businesses, etc. unless those privately-owned businesses are seeking government contracts or to provide services to government agencies.

4. When presented with an ITEP request, the guidelines adopted by the council should be strictly adhered to in making their determination. [Neutral]

Please know that I believe that Metro Council members should decide whether an ITEP application is accepted or rejected, because such decisions should be made by officials elected by the voters who will be affected by that decision.

I also believe there should be compelling reasons to grant ITEP applications. Not only should there be an economic benefit to the community. There should be clear evidence that the business is unable to afford to move forward on the project without the requested tax abatement.

As to whether council members should strictly abide by the guidelines adopted when voting on such applications, I am wary of declaring they should for two reasons:

1. The EBR Parish Metropolitan Council Industrial Tax Exemption Program Guidelines contain so many qualifying provisions there is no substance to the guidelines.

2. I fear the guidelines actually create the false impression that Metro Councilmembers must approve ITEP applications more often than necessary, particularly in favor of large corporations.

5. Baton Rouge and other municipalities should have legal control over their area’s minimum wage. [Agree]

I do believe that local municipalities should have control over their area’s minimum wage. And I support a phased increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, I do not believe the City-Parish government in East Baton Rouge Parish should increase its minimum wage to an amount significantly higher than the current federal minimum wage. Doing so would likely result in businesses relocating outside parish lines in order to avoid paying the higher wage. The harm created by the lost business revenue would outweigh the benefits of the higher wage.

7. The Metro Council does a satisfactory job of awarding government contracts to ensure that all businesses are given a fair chance—including Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). [Neutral]

I believe that the Metro Council should ensure that all businesses are given a fair chance of being awarded government contracts, including Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.

This is an area I need to research more thoroughly. I would need to do more research to determine whether the Metro Council has done a satisfactory job in this area, and if the research indicates the Metro Council has not, I’d need to do more research to understand the barriers some businesses, including Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, are encountering.

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