A number of area legislators were recently recognized for voting records favorable to business and industry in the state, according to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s 2021 Legislative Scorecard.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, or LABI, is the largest business lobby in the state. Each year, LABI releases its scorecard to identify state lawmakers whose work or legislation at the State Capitol was beneficial to businesses.
This year, seven lawmakers from the Northeast Region scored above 80 percent on bills LABI identified as important to Louisiana businesses.
Leading those high scores, three legislators were named as “Most Valuable Policymakers” (MVPs), scoring a perfect 100 percent on bills important to LABI and the state’s business community. Those members are Sen. Stewart Cathey (R-Monroe), Rep. Michael Echols (R-Monroe) and Rep. Chris Turner (R-Ruston).
Only one area legislator, Rep. Foy Gadberry (R-West Monroe), earned the ranking of “All-Star,” scoring 90 percent or higher on legislation important to LABI and the state’s employers during both sessions.
Northeast legislators earning “Honorable Mentions,” scoring 80 percent or higher on legislation important to LABI and its members are Sen. Glen Womack (R-Harrisonburg), Rep. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, Rep. Francis Thompson (D-Delhi) and Rep. Jack McFarland (R-Jonesboro).
Sen. Katrina Jackson and Rep. Pat Moore, both Democrats from Monroe, scored 57 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
LABI, the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturing association, worked with a bipartisan group of legislators, stakeholders and local collectors to create a plan for a centralized sales tax system in Louisiana—one which would streamline tax collection to make the state more competitive and business friendly.
The passing of this bill, among others, was considered when tallying the scores of legislators.
“It was a vital objective of LABI’s to pass the bill for a centralized sales tax collection, and many men and women at the Capitol worked tirelessly to make that happen,” said Stephen Waguespack, president and CEO of LABI, who notes that its constitutional amendment must still be approved by voters on November 13. “Our Legislative Scorecard highlights the champions of this legislation, as well as others, who voted for a better business future.”
In addition to a centralized sales tax plan, legislators also passed bills to simplify Louisiana’s tax code while tackling transportation funding, transparency and education recovery solutions. This year’s LABI Scorecard spotlights those game-changing issues and the legislators who supported them.
“This legislative session produced some huge wins for Louisiana businesses, including the largest increase in infrastructure investment in nearly 40 years,” said Terry Baugh, chairman of the board for LABI. “Thankfully, this Legislature recognized the current condition of roads and bridges across our state as an impediment to economic competitiveness and chose to be bold in addressing it.”
In the end, votes on 16 key bills were scored, issues prioritized by LABI members with their expertise and input through a number of issue councils, and cemented in LABI’s annual Program of Work that guides the organization’s advocacy. The criteria outlined in the Program of Work determines the weight each piece of legislation carries throughout the session and guides the final votes selected for the annual analysis.
The Scorecard, which for decades has served as a valuable tool for LABI members and the public in knowing where Louisiana’s legislators stand on game-changing business issues, is also featured as a special section within the pages of LABI’s new statewide business publication, 5th & Main, which hits mailboxes this week.
“Our Louisiana Legislature enacted meaningful bipartisan measures that will truly help shape a better climate for economic opportunity: meaning jobs for Louisiana,” said Waguespack.
“I urge you to look over our scorecard, and help us celebrate our champions of free enterprise at such a critical time for our economic recovery.”