Action through Advocacy

Statewide and Local Issues Addressed by the Chamber

The Jefferson Chamber serves as the voice of business for Jefferson Parish, but also contributes on local, regional and statewide issues. The Chamber listens closely and is proactive on the issues and concerns of its members and the business community. During the 2023 Louisiana Legislative Session, the Jefferson Chamber provided a series of weekly email updates to membership on a variety of bills that were introduced. The Jefferson Chamber addressed numerous state and local issues including insurance reform, education reform, tax reform, industrial zoning and more.

INSURANCE: The Louisiana Legislature convened on January 30, 2023, for a special legislative session to address the ongoing insurance crisis after insurers in Louisiana fled the state and residents faced exorbitant property insurance costs. The session funded the Insure Louisiana Incentive Program with $45 million which incentivized insurance companies to write policies in the state.

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In addition to the early 2023 special legislative session, the Legislature passed additional measures aimed at stabilizing the state’s property insurance market. The package includes bills related to the Louisiana Fortify Homes Program, Insure Louisiana Incentive Program and more. An additional $10 million was appropriated to the Insure Louisiana Incentive Program. The Legislature also appropriated $30 million to the Louisiana Fortify Homes Program which allows residents to apply for grants to repair or replace their roofs using more robust building methods that meet or exceed the fortified roof standard of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

EDUCATION REFORM:  A top priority for the 2023 Legislative Session, education reform will continue to remain an important issue for the state of Louisiana. Several of the bills passed will expand education options to help ensure every child has access to a quality education. The Jefferson Chamber has long supported significant funding for all levels of education. The Louisiana Legislature passed the state budget which included $44 million in new funding for early care and education.  Appointed by Speaker Schexnayder, Jefferson Chamber President Ruth Lawson continued her service on the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission which was established to create a vision and framework for the future of early childhood care and education in Louisiana. 

TAX REFORM:  Although this was a fiscal session, and the Jefferson Chamber had high hopes for significant tax reform, there was not much of an appetite given the dynamics of an election year.

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INDUSTRIAL ZONING:  In 2022, Jefferson Parish released a draft code for the Parish’s industrial zoning districts. This includes an analysis of current industrial zoning that will result in recommendations regarding an approach to modernizing industrial zoning and, ultimately, a new set of zoning districts for industrial areas. Over the past two years, the Chamber has organized weekly coalition meetings with Jefferson Parish industrial firms to advocate for their needs and the potential economic impact if this industry is susceptible to increased regulations.

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Legislative Issues Breakfast

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On Tuesday, March 7, at the Hilton New Orleans Airport Hotel in Kenner, President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business Industry (LABI), Stephen Waguespack, and President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., Michael Hecht, presented legislation they supported during the subsequent legislative sessions. Boasting a crowd of 300 attendees, the discussion between Waguespack and Hecht focused on a wide range of subjects including education and workforce development, tax reform, and the gubernatorial election in November. Sponsored by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, the event also featured a pass the mic “Two Minute Take” which is extended to members of the Jefferson Delegation to speak briefly on their 2023 priorities. Senator Kirk Talbot, Rep. John Illg Jr., Rep. Laurie Schlegel, Rep. Rodney Lyons, Rep. Polly Thomas, and Rep. Debbie Villio each provided commentary during the segment.

LFEI Leadership Bootcamp

On Friday, May 12, the Jefferson Chamber partnered with LABI to host a leadership bootcamp at the Hilton New Orleans Airport as part of the organization’s Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute’s efforts to recruit and educate pro-business leaders interesting in running for public office. The bootcamps are designed to equip candidates for offices of all sizes, as well as their campaign teams, with the best information and tools to run a successful campaign. Additionally, the bootcamp was non-partisan, and open to individuals associated or unassociated with any political party.

Political Action Committee

In October, the Jefferson Chamber PAC celebrated 10 victories for its endorsed candidates at the state and local level. Jennifer Van Vrancken (At-Large Division A), Scott Walker (At-Large Division B), Byron Lee (District 3), Arita Bohannan (District 4) and Hans Liljeberg (District 5) were victorious in their races for seats on the Jefferson Parish Council. At the state level, Paul Hollis (BESE District 1), Cameron Henry (Senate District 9), Kyle Green (Rep. District 83), Vincent Cox (Rep. District 85) and Stephanie Hilferty (Rep. District 94) also won their respective races.

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Evening at the Legislature

On Tuesday, May 16, the Chamber held its annual Evening at the Legislature, presented by Peoples Health, at the LABI headquarters in Baton Rouge. The event offers leaders in the Jefferson Parish community an opportunity to learn about the legislative process and receive information on the status of key legislation critical to Jefferson Parish and the business community. The 2023 event included a legislative briefing to approximately 70 attendees, featuring presentations by Interim President and CEO of LABI, Jim Patterson, and President of the Public Affairs Research (PAR) Council of Louisiana, Dr. Steven Procopio. A comprehensive overview of current bills that impact Jefferson Parish and Greater New Orleans preceded a reception with members of the Jefferson Legislative Delegation.

Washington, D.C. Fly-In

The Jefferson Chamber made its annual trip to our nation’s capital September 12-15 for the 2023 Washington, D.C. Fly-In, presented by Zito Companies. Top business leaders met with federal officials to discuss important issues vital to the Greater New Orleans region such as coastal restoration, insurance reform, education and more. Events during the three-day visit included U.S. Chamber of Commerce Briefings, a Po’Boy’s & Politics Rooftop Reception, a late-night tour of the U.S. Capitol led by Congressman Garret Graves, a Reception in the Lincoln Room of the U.S. Capitol, and briefings with all members of the Louisiana congressional delegation.

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InterCity Visit: Austin, Texas

The Jefferson Chamber traveled to Austin, Texas, with a delegation of public, private, and nonprofit leaders from the Greater New Orleans region for its biennial InterCity Visit. The trip was conducted July 18-21, featuring an agenda developed for attendees to learn from their counterparts in the Austin (Travis County) market. Each day, the cohort examined some of the challenges and opportunities faced by Jefferson Parish in these areas while highlighting Austin’s achievements through the facilitation and exchange of best practices and lessons learned.

Panel discussions, presentations, site visits, and tours filled the trip’s three-day itinerary which focused on economic development, education, workforce development, and quality of life initiatives. Speakers included leaders from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Austin Alliance, City of Austin, Catellus Development Corporation, and Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Panel-led discussions focused on education and economic development, in addition to presentations by Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales and Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan.

The 2023 trip was the second of its kind conducted by the Jefferson Chamber following its inaugural visit to Tennessee in June 2021, which included visits to Nashville (Davidson County) and the surrounding areas.


State of Jefferson

On Thursday, October 26, the Jefferson Chamber hosted its annual State of Jefferson business luncheon at The Pontchartrain Convention & Civic Center in Kenner. Selling out since its creation, each year’s attendance includes a “who’s who” roster of local business leaders and politicians. Each year, the Chamber invites Jefferson Parish leadership to discuss and evaluate progress, performance, and future planning in the community. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, Jefferson Parish Councilman-at-Large for Division B, Scott Walker, and Jefferson Parish Public School System Superintendent, Dr. James Gray provided updates and participated in a panel discussion.


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