The New Orleans City Council, the Orleans Parish Sheriff and the Orleans Parish School Board have all agreed that Folgers Coffee should be required to pay property taxes on its manufacturing operations in the city. But earlier this month the Board of Commerce and Industry overruled the local authorities, and agreed to grant the coffee giant $5.1 million in tax breaks. On Monday Gov. John Bel Edwards used his constitutional authority to reject the tax breaks, siding with local elected officials who said they need the money to provide public services. The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges reports that the matter remains tied up in court: 

Folgers has blocked the local governmental authorities from collecting the taxes for now by suing the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office in Civil District Court. Still, Edwards’ ruling was an important victory for those who believe that local governments should decide whether they want to forgo the taxes that new investments on machinery and equipment would generate. “I have always been clear that I believe local governments should have authority over exemptions to their own property taxes, which they use to fund priorities like roads, schools and law enforcement,” Edwards said in a statement.

Disclosure: LBP Executive Director Jan Moller is a member of the Board of Commerce and Industry, but was not present for the Folgers vote on March 1. 

Noncompete clauses are everywhere 
The Federal Trade Commission has proposed to ban the use of noncompete clauses for many workers. A Labor Department study from last June showed that 1 in 5 American workers are bound by these clauses, but other research suggests it could be closer to 50%. The Washington Post’s Julian Mark spoke with workers in five states – including Shelbie Brennen, a salon owner who’s being sued for recently opening up her own salon: 

Disputes over noncompetes — clauses in employment contracts that restrict workers from taking jobs at rival companies — are hardly new. What has changed is the fresh focus on the proliferation of noncompete agreements in relatively low-wage work, raising questions over whether they are necessary for jobs that seemingly involve few trade secrets or even specialized training. Brennen said that she lives below the poverty line and, unable to afford a lawyer, the two are relying on Google searches to prepare their defense. “We barely get by to pay our bills,” she said. “This has become an extreme hardship in so many ways.”

Reality check: 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. 

Bipartisan consensus on reducing maternal deaths 
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. But tucked inside the federal American Rescue Plan Act was a little-noticed provision that allowed states to offer a full year of postpartum Medicaid coverage for new moms. It appears that there is a bipartisan consensus to take advantage of this new provision, as at least nine Republican-led states have adopted it. The Washington Post’s Leana S. Wen explains the progress that’s being made – and the work that lays ahead – in reducing maternal deaths in America. 

Unfortunately, federal law only requires Medicaid coverage for 60 days postpartum, and many Republican-led states have kept to that minimum standard. That’s finally starting to change. I’m glad these lawmakers are at last acknowledging that giving new moms a year of guaranteed health insurance is important for their well-being and that of their babies and their families. The last thing that a new mom with hypertension, diabetes, depression or substance addiction should have to worry about is whether she can get care because her insurance lapsed.

Last April, Louisiana became the first state to take advantage of extended postpartum coverage, which is welcome news in a state that has the second-highest infant mortality rate in the country. Louisiana also provides 12-month continuous eligibility for children in Medicaid or CHIP.

Fathers want to keep expanded family time
During the Covid-19 pandemic, fathers took on a larger share of domestic responsibilities and spent more time with their children than they had before. While most fathers reverted back to their traditional roles when the economy reopened, a sizable share were able to continue in their new roles. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times’ Upshot blog explains how many fathers are willing to rearrange their work lives in order to maintain their expanded time with their families. 

Even before the pandemic, the generation of fathers currently raising children wanted to be more involved than their fathers had been, research has shown. But they hit obstacles, like societal expectations for traditional gender roles and workplaces that penalized men who prioritized family and rewarded those who were always available. The shared crisis of the pandemic seems to have offered some fathers a path around those obstacles. … “For the longest time, it was: The male is the provider,” [Ryan McCarty] he said. “I was that guy. But now I’m not ashamed to say this is who I am in my life. That’s what Covid did. We had a lot of downtime to reflect and think about what’s important.”

Number of the Day
$4,000 – National gender pay gap between male and female teachers. Women make up approximately three-fourths of the national teacher workforce. (Source: Brookings)