Lawmakers toss dollar bills over exotic dancer age limit

Published: May. 20, 2016 at 1:55 AM CDT|Updated: May. 20, 2016 at 2:19 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - A group of lawmakers tossed $1 bills into a pile Wednesday during a heated debate over a bill to protect sex-trafficking victims.

"They were laughing. They were throwing one dollar bills up at the table," Kenner Rep. Julie Stokes said. "It wasn't appropriate."

The bill would increase the minimum age for exotic dancers from 18 to 21.

East Baton Rouge Rep. Kenny Havard dismissed the outcry for him to apologize a day after he made a "joke" on the House floor that dealt with the bill. Havard believed the measure was an overreach of government, and he amended the bill to include a maximum age for dancers of 28 and a weight limit of 160 pounds.

"It's regretful that some people got offended by it, but I don't think that I'll apologize for being politically incorrect," Havard said. "I don't understand. It must be a slow day in the news cycle. I wish Trump was showing his butt and not me."

"It's not just Representative Havard. It's just the point. If that's acceptable on camera and publicly posted on the website, what's going on when the cameras aren't on?" Stokes said.

Stokes did not see the humor in Havard's amendment and lashed out at her colleague on the House floor Wednesday.

"I gotta say, looking out over this body, I've never been more repulsed to be a part of it," she told members.

On Thursday, Stokes and Gov. Jon Bel Edwards criticized the supposed joke, especially after other representatives placed money on the counter top next to the House podium.

"We don't have enough females in the House and Senate today, and if we had more, I suspect these sort of things may not occur," Edwards said.

"I was just saddened by it because it happens a lot," Louisiana Agenda for Women's Julie Schwam Harris said.

She believes sexism is alive and well at the Capitol, and points to the failure of several equal pay bills Thursday as her reasoning.

"They will vote on legislation such as equal pay and not see that discrimination is hurting our state. It's hurting family and children because they are relying on women's wages," Schwam Harris said. "So yeah, it was a double whammy."

New Orleans Rep. Helena Moreno also came out against Havard's statements and the actions by lawmakers.  She called the issue "shameful and sexist" and started a campaign on social media with #itsnojoke.

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