Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
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. LABI serves as the state chamber of commerce and manufacturing association. It was founded in Baton Rouge in 1976, when Louisiana adopted a new right-to-work law during the administration of Democratic Governor Edwin Washington Edwards. The previous law, passed in the 1950s during the Robert F. Kennon administration, was repealed in 1956 by the Louisiana State Legislature under Kennon’s successor, Earl Kemp Long. 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. Its original long-term executive director was Edward J. Steimel of Baton Rouge, previously with the Public Affairs Research Council, a "good government" think tank.
LABI has been extensively involved in education reform. In 1987, LABI issued the report "Ten Years of Education Reform in Louisiana: A Long Journey to Nowhere". 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.
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.
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, retires 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. Waguespack is married to the former Colleen Guste, granddaughter of the late Louisiana Attorney General William J. Guste.
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