Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

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The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, known by the acronym LABI, is the largest and most successful business lobbying group in the U.S. state of Louisiana, based in the capital city of Baton Rouge.

LABI serves as the state chamber of commerce and manufacturing association. It was founded in the capital city of Baton Rouge in 1976, when Louisiana adopted a new right-to-work law during the administration of Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards. The previous law, passed in the 1950s during the Robert F. Kennon administration, was repealed in 1956 by the state legislature acting at the behest of Kennon's successor, Earl Kemp Long.[1]

Teeming from its success with right-to-work, LABI quickly unified the state's business community into a visible, well-financed, fully-staffed organization to speak for business year-round as well as during state legislative sessions.[2] Its original long-term executive director was Edward Joseph Steimel, Sr., of Baton Rouge, previously with the Public Affairs Research Council, a "good government" think tank.

Juneau pictured on the left, appeared on March 8, 2012, with retired educator David Ramsey, Ph.D., during Juneau's visit to the Hammond, Louisiana, Chamber of Commerce. Juneau, who has since left the association explained LABI's positions on various education issues then under consideration by the state legislature.
Stephen Waguespack resigned as the president of LABI in March 2023 to enter the state's open governor's race.

Education issues

LABI has been extensively involved in education reform, but the reforms enacted have made little difference in the status of education in the state. . In 1987, LABI issued the report "Ten Years of Education Reform in Louisiana: A Long Journey to Nowhere".[3] Most reforms, LABI found, had been "watered down, ignored, not implemented properly, taken to court by the teacher unions and others, mired in turf battles, or not funded." Similar reforms pushed by Governor Buddy Roemer in 1988 met the same opposition from particular constituency groups. LABI maintains that parents in effect must "pay twice" to obtain educational reform—taxes for public schools and their own private tuition.[3]

LABI issues annual reports with numerical ratings of all state legislators, both for the current year and accumulative totals. A member who scores 50 percent, for instance, will have voted for LABI positions half the time.

Current leadership

LABI's address is 3113 Valley Creek Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70898–0258. In 1989, Daniel Leo "Dan" Juneau (born 1946) was named to succeed Ed Steimel as the LABI president. He wrote a column widely published in Louisiana newspapers and traveled across the state speaking to civic groups on behalf of LABI. Juneau, who resides in Baton Rouge, retired from LABI, effective September 16, 2013.

His successor, Stephen Michael Waguespack (born 1974), has been since 2012 special counsel to the law firm Jones Walker. Waguespack previously served in the administration of Governor Bobby Jindal, most recently as chief of staff.[4] Waguespack is married to the former Colleen Guste, granddaughter of the late state Democrat Attorney General William J. Guste.[5]

In March 2023, Waguespack resigned from LABI to enter the crowded race for governor of Louisiana. He is a Republican.[6]

References

  1. James C. Gardner (2004). Jim Gardner and Shreveport. Ritz Publications, 353–354. ISBN 1-886032-24-6. 
  2. Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harmer, David (1994). School Choice: How You Get It, Why You Need It. Cato Institute. ISBN 1-882577-15-9. Retrieved on November 12, 2009. 
  4. Former Jindal aide Waguespack named head of Louisiana business group, September 6, 2013. Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on September 7, 2013.
  5. Colleen Waguespack. businessreport.com. Retrieved on September 7, 2013.
  6. Julie O'Donoghue (March 6, 2023). LABI president poised to enter Louisiana governor’s race, sources say. lailluminator.com. Retrieved on March 12, 2023.

External links