Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, known as LABI, is the largest and most effective business lobbying group in the state of Louisiana. LABI serves as the state chamber of commerce and manufacturers association. Beginning with passage of Louisiana’s right-to-work law in 1976 to spearheading historic education reforms of 2012 to leading tort reforms in 2014, LABI has worked diligently for 40 years to improve Louisiana's business climate. As a demonstrated powerful force in politics for business and industry, the LABI motto is "One voice. Amplified."
- 1 Current Leadership
- 2 Past Leaders
- 3 Focus
- 4 Issue Councils
- 5 Resources
- 6 References
As the president of LABI since 2013, Stephen M. Waguespack has worked to enhance the association’s focus on federal issues, research, policy, as well as member engagement through technological advancements. In the most recent legislative session, this approach led to great success at the state Capitol, specifically in lawsuit, workforce, and education reform. With nearly 20 years of experience in federal and state politics, Stephen has earned a reputation as an active voice for reform policy in Louisiana. In addition to numerous personal outreach efforts, he writes a weekly political column that runs in publications throughout the state.
Prior to joining LABI, Stephen served as a member of the State Board of Education and as a special counsel for Jones Walker, a Louisiana-based law firm. Stephen also served as a top advisor in several different roles for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, including chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, executive counsel, and policy director. Before joining the Jindal administration, he spent 10 years on Capitol Hill, where he worked as a senior advisor to Texas Congressman Joe Barton and as a vice president with the Alpine Group.
Stephen holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University as well as a law degree from The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
The founding director, Edward J. Steimel, often sparred with the Democrat Victor Bussie, long-term president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, who fought right-to-work legislation and sought its repeal. In 1976, Steimel supported U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., in the campaign against the Democrat Jimmy Carter, whom Steimel believed would work for the repeal of Section 14B of the Taft Hartley Act, which permits states to adopt right-to-work laws. More than 20 states have adopted such legislation. After Steimel's retirement, Daniel Juneau served as LABI president.
LABI focuses on promoting a healthy Louisiana business environment for its member organizations. During the 2014 legislative session, LABI targeted four areas of concern: civil justice reform, women in business, small business, and workforce development.
The organization has identified civil justice reform as a hot topic for years as Louisiana's current civil justice practices increase business expenses and insurance coverage costs. LABI will continue the fight to improve Louisiana's litigious climate to make it easier on existing companies and to incentivize new businesses to invest in the state. LABI also pushed for legislation that benefits women in business and small business. Small businesses account for 97 percent of all employers in Louisiana and employ nearly 875,000 residents. Louisiana ranks second among the states for revenue increases in women-owned firms. The final issue LABI focused on in the 2014 legislative session is Workforce Development. Various companies have announced more than $60 billion in new investments and expansions taking place in Louisiana in the coming year. New investments mean new jobs, and companies will need skilled workers to fill them. With the help of legislators, educators and business owners, LABI has produced a report outlining a plan for those workers to ensure they are equipped with the information they need to meet the needs of Louisiana's emerging new economy.
LABI divides the issues it advocates on behalf of into groups called councils. A LABI lobbyist and LABI board member head each council. The councils include: Civil Justice Reform; Employee Relations; Education and Workforce Development; Energy, Environmental Quality; Taxation and Finance; Governmental Reform; Technology Advocacy; Trade, Tourism and Transportation; Health Care; and Small Business.
Civil Justice Reform
The Civil Justice Reform Council seeks to ensure a balance between the rights of plaintiffs and defendants in Louisiana's civil justice system. The council also works to improve the availability and affordability of liability insurance. Will Green is the director of the Civil Justice Reform Council.
The Employee Relations Council considers legislation to lower costs in the areas of unemployment and workers' compensation. The Unemployment Comp Task Force and Workers' Comp Task Force make recommendations to the full council for action. The council also deals with right-to-work, drug testing, collective bargaining, OSHA, EEO, and other labor-management issues. Will Green is the director of the Employee Relations Council.
Education & Workforce Development
The Education and Workforce Development Council coordinates business' involvement in education reform issues; works to pass legislation to improve K-12, university and community college education; and focuses on vocational education and workforce development. Brigitte Nieland is the director of the Education and Workforce Development Council.
The Energy Council is composed of energy producing, transporting and consuming businesses which promote adequate supplies of all forms of energy at competitive prices. It leads the opposition to increased taxes and fees on energy sources, encourages conservation of resources, and balances environmental concerns with energy production on usage. Brian Landry is the director of the Energy Council.
The Environmental Quality Council concentrates on legislation and issues pertaining to environmental matters related to business. The council's goal seeks a balance between economic development and environmental protection. Jim Patterson is the director of the Environmental Quality Council.
Taxation & Finance
The Taxation and Finance Council focuses on fiscal policy research and lobbies legislation dealing with taxation and finance. Jim Patterson is the director of the Taxation and Finance Council.
The Governmental Reform Council focuses on issues such as ethics, campaign finance, elections and retirement, in order to pass legislation promoting integrity in governmental practice for the benefit of the state's businesses and citizens. Courtney Baker is the director of the Governmental Reform Council.
The Technology Advocacy Council is dedicated to being the public policy champion for businesses that are creators and users of technology applications. Courtney Baker is the director of the Technology Advocacy Council.
Trade, Tourism & Transportation
The Trade, Tourism and Transportation Council provides a unified, influential voice for the travel and tourism industry and promotes opportunities to expand international trade. Courtney Baker is the director of the Trade, Tourism and Transportation Council.
The Health Care Council works to ensure a cost-effective, competitive health care market as an incentive to encourage economic growth and development while assuring that consumers in Louisiana receive high-quality, accessible health care. Bridgette Jamison is the director of the Healthcare Council.
The Small Business Council deals with a variety of issues concerning small businesses, including economic development issues, corporation contracts and regulations effecting business practices. Renee Amar is the director of the Small Business Council.
LABI keeps its members up to date throughout the Louisiana Legislative session via its website, LABI.org . Member businesses can access daily updates about every Louisiana legislator, including a score card that shows whether state representatives and senators voted for or against the interests of Louisiana business. In addition to Information about bills, committees and district information, site visitors will find the latest news on issues that affect business and a full listing of [www.labi.org/events upcoming LABI events].