Gov. John Bel Edwards is weighing in on the squabble at Louisiana’s state house over health insurance coverage for state employees. His spokesperson issued a statement pointing a finger directly at State Rep. Cameron Henry, who vowed to keep rejecting contracts so long as they include provisions that would protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination.
“Rep. Henry’s dangerous approach to this issue could leave thousands of hardworking state employees without their health insurance,” said a spokesperson for the governor. “He’s merely grandstanding, yet again, to push a partisan, political agenda.”
When Republicans rejected a contract last week, Rep. Henry, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, issued his vow that no deal would be approved until the nondiscrimination clause was taken out.
“If you bring that contract back again, and it has the same language that it does now, we are going to have the same problems. It’s not going to get any better the next time you come back,” the lawmaker promised.
As NewNowNext reported, the contract with Vantage Health Plan, Inc. is for coverage for 10,000 state employees and their families in 2017.
Rep. Jack McFarland joined Henry in claiming the wording in the rejected contract would create a “protected class” of state workers. However, by law, all contracts in Louisiana must already protect people from discrimination based on race, gender, religion or political views.
Vantage issued a statement the Times-Picayune, declaring it doesn’t have an issue with protecting LGBTQ workers: “We’ve never discriminated against anyone and we never will. That’s not who we are or what we do.”
This fight began with the governor’s executive order to enforce LGBTQ protections, which last month a judge ruled invalid based on a technicality, not on its legality. Gov. Edwards has refused to rescind his order, creating a stalemate with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
The A.G. has since blocked dozens of state contracts from moving forward because of the LGBT wording. He is now suing Edwards to have the executive order voided.