Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President and CEO Stephen Waguespack will crisscross the state ahead of the upcoming legislative session to offer the perspective of the statewide business community on key state issues facing Louisiana.
LABI is hosting a series of legislative outlook sessions with chambers across the state. The first will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday in Livingston Parish. Subsequent meetings will take place in Slidell, Kenner, Lake Charles, Monroe, Shreveport, Natchitoches, Addis, Houma and Lafayette.
LABI, Waguespack says, is closely following several issues, including criminal justice reform, the economy and the budget, infrastructure and litigation.
“The state has embarked on a pretty aggressive effort to sue the oil and gas companies. We’re worried there will be more efforts this session to make more of those lawsuits a reality,” Waguespack says.
Unlike in previous years, LABI and business groups have become more engaged in criminal justice reform, holding a half-day statewide summit in November to discuss how to drive down the state’s high per capita incarceration rate.
LABI is focused on aiding low-level offenders as they re-enter society, making sure they have access to much-needed job training programs. While there have been concerns about violent offenders, Waguespack says the state needs to wisely implement criminal justice reforms.
“We need to do a better job of training those folks to make sure they have better jobs,” he says.
With the state still fighting persistent budgetary problems, LABI is also asking state lawmakers to free up more dollars for undedicated spending so solutions to Louisiana’s financial problems don’t always fall on taxpayers, Waguespack says.
“Too much of the budget is locked up,” he says. “Unlock a lot of the money, put it back on the table and every year’s let’s have a discussion on how best to use it.”
Get more information about the LABI sessions. The legislative session begins April 10.