Kevin Kane Center for Opportunity Policy

Systemic poverty threatens human dignity, endangers families, and is fundamentally antithetical to the American experiment. Unfortunately, too many of our government policies in the areas of criminal justice reform, social safety nets, workforce development, and occupational licensure present barriers to economic mobility and block off pathways to opportunity.

The Kane Center honors the work and passions of the Institute’s founder, Kevin Kane, who launched Pelican in 2008. Under his leadership the Institute played a leading role in a variety of critical issues, most notably in criminal justice reform. Kevin was honored by the Louisiana State Legislature following the passage of the landmark 2017 Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which will free thousands of Louisianans from the damaging cycles of recidivism and help these individuals re-enter society and find work. The scope of work in the Kane Center builds on this critical achievement and expands its reach to many others trapped by government policy that too often blocks meaningful pursuit of work and opportunity.

Fines and Fees: The New Debtors Prison

Fines and Fees: The New Debtors Prison

Louisiana has long been ranked as one of the poorest states in the country. Unfortunately, there seem to be a litany of government practices that contribute to this ugly truth. To build a better future for our state, there’s a lot of work to be done to create a society that is fair and just....

By Raheem Williams

We Can Defeat Poverty, But Must Choose Real-World Strategies To Do It

We Can Defeat Poverty, But Must Choose Real-World Strategies To Do It

Louisiana is undoubtedly one of America’s cultural centers. Cajun, Creole, Spanish, and other influences mix here like no other place in the world. Rich in natural resources and cultural heritage, the state has an immense capacity to ensure everyone has the opportunity to flourish. Unfortunately, by most objective measures, Louisiana isn’t living up to its...

By Raheem Williams

Reining in Unemployment Benefits is the Right Call for Louisiana

Reining in Unemployment Benefits is the Right Call for Louisiana

During the COVID-19  pandemic, the federal government expanded the unemployment benefit to an extra $300 weekly in an attempt to combat income loss with the shutdown of the economy. As our economy is beginning to recover, “help wanted” signs have become a norm all across the Pelican state. In Louisiana’s recovering economy, the expanded unemployment...

By Raheem Williams

The Pro Act Would Be a Disaster for Louisiana Workers

The Pro Act Would Be a Disaster for Louisiana Workers

Louisiana workers have struggled to recover from the economic and physical damage caused by the pandemic. There are 132,000 fewer Louisianans working than in March of 2020, and the 6,700 jobs created in June means there is a long way to go until the economy gets back to pre-pandemic levels. While workers in Louisiana are...

By Eric Peterson

June’s Jobs Report Shows Slow Progress Towards Economic Recovery

June’s Jobs Report Shows Slow Progress Towards Economic Recovery

Two weeks ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report showing that the nation added 850,000 jobs in June, beating expectations.  This provided some hope that Louisiana would see similarly large gains in employment. While Louisiana did add jobs in June, the gains left a lot to be desired. Louisiana added 6,700 jobs in...

By Eric Peterson

Ending Expanded Unemployment Benefits will Help Workers and the Economy

Ending Expanded Unemployment Benefits will Help Workers and the Economy

In the last couple of months,” help wanted” signs have become a common sight all across Louisiana. Last month, America had a record of 9.8 million job openings, over a million higher than the previous record just a month ago. Employers are looking for workers and often paying bonuses for them signing up. Yet too...

By Eric Peterson

Another Small Step for Occupational Licensing Reform

Another Small Step for Occupational Licensing Reform

With an economy that is still lagging behind the rest of the country, one of the largest barriers to economic success in Louisiana is the state’s burdensome occupational licensing laws. Occupational licenses are government issued permission slips that allow you to work in a certain profession. Louisiana’s occupational licensing laws are some of the most...

By Eric Peterson

It’s Time for Louisiana To End Extended Unemployment

It’s Time for Louisiana To End Extended Unemployment

The prevalence of help wanted signs are a welcomed sight in the recovery economy of Louisiana. But even though employers are begging for workers and promising great pay, employees are not showing up to take those jobs. The latest job report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed how dire this situation is.  Many...

By Eric Peterson

Expand Access to Quality Health Care in Louisiana

Expand Access to Quality Health Care in Louisiana

One of the most important silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic, is testing firsthand which regulations are necessary and which ones are not. Case in point is the outdated requirement that nurse practitioners obtain collaborative practice agreements to provide care to the people of Louisiana. Collaborative practice agreements are a government requirement that various nursing...

By Eric Peterson

March Job Numbers Show Desperate Need for Reform in Louisiana

March Job Numbers Show Desperate Need for Reform in Louisiana

As the vaccine flows into arms and Americans and they return to their normal lives after the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy has begun to boom. In March, more than 900,000 jobs were added to the economy lowering the unemployment rate to 6 percent, down almost an entire percentage point from the start of the year....

By Eric Peterson

Occupational Licensing Reform Would Benefit All Louisianans

Occupational Licensing Reform Would Benefit All Louisianans

If you are legally allowed to cut hair in Mississippi and move to Louisiana, shouldn’t you be able to cut hair in Louisiana as well?  Shockingly enough, the answer is no due to something known as an occupational license. Occupational licenses are government permission slips to work in certain professions.  Obtaining an occupational license is often...

By Eric Peterson

A year later: Where are we?

A year later: Where are we?

by Eric Peterson, director of the Pelican Center for Technology and Innovation Policy This week is a somber anniversary, as it marks one year since Americans were forced to lockdown across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, after a year of health and economic devastation caused by the virus and subsequent government lockdowns,...

By Eric Peterson

State Job Numbers Are No Cause for Celebration

State Job Numbers Are No Cause for Celebration

As Louisianans celebrate a vastly different kind of Mardi Gras this year, the latest economic data shows that COVID-19 has resulted in far more than cancelled parades. State and local government officials’ response to the pandemic has also led to significant job losses. Louisiana’s new economic data shows that while the number of Louisianans on...

By Daniel J. Erspamer

Reading Between the Lines on Latest Jobs Report

Reading Between the Lines on Latest Jobs Report

by Eric Peterson, director of the Pelican Center for Technology and Innovation Policy At first glance, the December State Employment and Unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics appeared positive for Louisiana. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals there is still a long way to go in the state’s economic recovery. The...

By Eric Peterson