Concerns are being voiced over an employment protection bill

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Mississippi is one of only two states without an equal pay law on the books. And it caught attention when a bill to change that was seemingly resurrected at the State Capitol last week. But supporters are saying, not so fast.

Equal pay proponents like Dr. Corinne Anderson want Mississippi to join 48 other states. But they're calling foul on the bill that's moving through the Capitol.
House Bill 1241 was amended by Rep. Alyce Clarke to include equal pay for equal work.

"The idea of the amendment is a good thing by itself," said Anderson, President of the American Association of University Women-Mississippi. "But in that bill particularly it is not a good thing. We do not want to come on with a piecemeal deal for equal pay."

The original bill would stop local governments from making their own decisions about pay, sick time, and schedules. They would instead have to follow the state's mandates on those issues.

"Some of our counties are rich enough to look at a minimum wage that's above the state level and to consider it but they're not going to be allowed to do that in that particular bill," noted Anderson.

Opponents say that would put Mississippi even further back and don't think it meets the criteria of an equal pay law. Despite the fact that the bill's author Representative Mark Baker filed an amendment that is identical to the federal equal pay law. Because of that, they're hoping for a pause.

"We'll have a chance next year to come back looking at something that, if nothing, is a bare-bones bill," explained Anderson. "One that's clear, clean, and even a fifth grader can understand."

Senator Derrick Simmons and another colleague had filed bills that would increase the minimum wage. It included an equal pay provision. But those bills didn't survive.

"Women deserve equal pay for equal work and that includes all of the rightful benefits to go along with that," said Simmons, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman.

It should be noted that there was a mirror bill in the Senate to House Bill 1241 but it died in committee.

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