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Lege passes a Lilly Ledbetter bill

This is some fine work, but it’s a little early to be giddy about it.

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson

A bill that seeks to prevent pay discrimination against women narrowly passed the Texas Senate on Wednesday.

“Employers who are doing the right thing and treating women fairly don’t view this bill as a threat,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “Equal pay decisions should be made in the CEO’s office rather than a courtroom.”

House Bill 950, by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would make Texas law mirror protections of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. It sparked a gender fight in the House last month, and it squeaked out of the Senate with a vote of 17-14. Senators added two amendments to the bill, which means it must return to the House for approval if it is to go to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for approval.

The measure clarifies that pay discrimination claims based on “sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability” accrue whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck. Under the measure, a 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

Texas is the 43rd state to pass such an act.

The bill would change Texas Labor Code by making the state statute of limitations the same as the federal law, giving those who have been discriminated against more time to collect damages.

One change to the bill, made by state Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, would limit the equal protection rights to wages, and not to benefits or other compensation. Another change came from state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and it would require that the act apply only to claims that occur on or after the law takes effect in September.

I don’t want to minimize the achievement of Rep. Thompson, who’s worked to pass a bill like this for ten years, or Sen. Wendy Davis, who shepherded this through the Senate, but I fear this bill will be a juicy veto target for Rick Perry. It’s a Democratic bill, expressing Democratic values, modeled on legislation passed by the most Democratic Congress in recent memory in response to a very business-friendly SCOTUS ruling. I guess Perry could get some warm fuzzies for being sensitive to women’s issues by signing this, but how does this help him in a primary against Greg Abbott or in the 2016 Presidential primary, assuming he’s interested in one or both of these races? If it really is his plan to get on board the right wing gravy train ride off into the sunset then sure, maybe he’ll sign it. If not, or if he is the petty little SOB we all think he is, then he’ll veto. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s what I expect. A statement from Sen. Davis is here, and BOR has more.

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2 Comments

  1. [...] forget the veto of the Lilly Ledbetter bill, too. Democrats have underperformed with Anglo women in Texas compared to the country as a whole. [...]

  2. [...] which received 26 Republican votes in the House on third reading. I take no pride in noting that I predicted the veto, though I did so on the usually reliable grounds of Rick Perry being a jerk. I had no idea that he [...]

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