With women legislators in vocal opposition, the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee today defeated HB 1806 by Rep. Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) to require state agencies to pay men and women equally.

The bill went down to defeat on Equal Pay Day, where there’s ample reporting to show that pay is NOT equal and it’s often even worse than you think when racial and ethnic differences are considered.

You can watch the defeat of McCullough’s bill here, beginning at 11:54. She chose Tuesday to run the bill, emblematic of how long women have to work to make up the pay gap. She acknowledged a list of legislative efforts to equalize pay, but “women in the U.S. and Arkansas still make less than their male counterparts.” In Arkansas, white women make 80 percent of what men make, black women 65 percent and Latina women 53 percent, she said.

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McCullough got no questions and no one appeared to speak for or against the bill. But two Republican women who are on the committee spoke in opposition — Mary Bentley of Perryville and Karilyn Brown of Sherwood.

Bentley said, “We have plenty of state laws and federal laws to cover that.” If people feel they’ve been discriminated against, they can go to court, she said.

Brown said the bill was “well-intentioned,” but she said many studies had been done. She didn’t provide specifics, but added, “I personally believe men have been discriminated against in the last number of years. I just think it’s unneeded.”

Rep. Fredrick Love (D-Little Rock) spoke up for the bill. “The facts remain that women still fall far behind men. We must take positive steps to do something.”

Love’s do-pass motion failed on a voice vote.