The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday proposed to ban the use of noncompete clauses for many workers, which forbid workers from taking jobs with their employers’ competitors for a specific period of time. Research has shown that these types of clauses reduce wages and mobility for workers across various industries because employers do not have to compete for employees by raising wages or improving working conditions. The Washington Post’s Lauren Kaori Gurley reports:

The FTC estimates that banning noncompete contracts would open new job opportunities for 30 million Americans and raise wages by $300 billion a year. … “Noncompetes are basically locking up workers, which means that they’re not able to match with the best jobs for them,” [FTC Chair Lina] Khan said on a call with reporters Wednesday afternoon. “If this rule were to be finalized and go into effect … [it] would force employers to compete more vigorously over workers in ways that should lead to higher wages and improved working conditions, basically injecting competition into the labor market.”

Legislative pay raises 
The Louisiana Radio Network’s Kevin Gallagher reports that state legislators might try to vote themselves a pay raise during the upcoming session – which would mark the first increase in more than four decades.  Sara Gentzler of the Flatwater Free Press reports on a similar debate underway in Nebraska, and notes that raising the pay could make their chamber more representative of the population they represent and reshape debates about issues that affect people who currently can’t afford to serve. 

The average age is 57 in the current Nebraska Legislature, which will be in place through January 2023. Most state senators are retired, semi-retired or in a position to take significant time away from their primary jobs, according to current and former state senators and financial disclosure forms. And about half report owning property besides their home – farmland, rental properties and second homes. Boosting pay could diversify the Nebraska Legislature and result in state lawmakers more politically like the people they represent, say experts and studies of statehouses across the country.

Reality check: The last time Louisiana legislators voted themselves a pay raise, in 2008, the issue blew up in their faces when Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the bill after promising to let it become law. Part-time members of the Legislature can currently earn a base pay of $16,800 per year, with more for committee chairs, plus $168 per diem for every day they work at the Capitol. 

Defunding the (tax) police
While U.S. House Republicans can’t seem to pick a leader, there is a consensus among GOP lawmakers around limiting the Internal Revenue Service’s enforcement power. Audit rates of millionaires and mega-corporation have significantly decreased over the past decade, which has led to billions of dollars in lost revenue for the federal government each year. As the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explains, Republicans want to claw back $80 billion the IRS is slated to receive over the next decade to help ensure that the ultra-wealthy comply with our tax laws. 

For whatever reason, Republicans have decided to stay on the side of the rich tax cheats. Last month, they forced a 2 percent cut in regular IRS appropriations as part of the omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2023. Now, they’re gunning to rescind nearly all of that bigger chunk of IRS funding, including money for increased enforcement and for creating a new free-file program that would make it easier for people with simple tax returns to file. Republicans have given their legislation the Orwellian name of “Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act.”

Millions displaced by natural disasters
Approximately 3.3 million people were displaced from their homes in 2022 because of natural disasters. These figures include more than 409,000 Louisianans – or nearly 1 in 8 residents – despite the state not experiencing a major hurricane. Millions more could be displaced from their homes over the coming decades as the deadly effects of climate change continue. The AP’s Mike Schneider reports on who will be most affected by this migration away from disaster:  

Of the 3.3 million displaced adults, more than a third were out of their homes for less than a week. About 1 in 6 residents never returned to their homes, according to the survey. The demographic makeup of the displaced didn’t deviate much from the overall race and ethnic background of the U.S. population, but they tended to be poorer. About 22% of the displaced adults reported having a household income of less than $25,000 a year, compared to 17.4% for the overall U.S. population.

Number of the Day
4.5 million – Number of jobs U.S. employers added in 2022. This is the second-best year for job creation since 1940. (Source: Wall Street Journal)