‘LaPolitics’: LABI changes PAC thresholds for endorsements; House education committee gets restocked

    As LaPolitics first reported last year, the four independent political action committees of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry have voted to increase the threshold for automatic endorsements of legislators.

    Previously lawmakers had to vote along with LABI, cumulatively, 75% of the time on select legislation. That bar has now been raised to 80% for an automatic endorsement.

    Last year nine senators and 30 House members received automatic endorsements. If the new rule would have been in place in 2015, only five senators and 19 House members would have gotten the big nod.

    “This year has been a pivotal year for Louisiana businesses,” NORTHPAC Chair Terry Baugh says. “It is more important than ever before that our legislators support pro-growth policies that will create more jobs for Louisianans and generate more revenues for the state.”

    LABI’s PACs last increased the threshold for legislative endorsements in 2000, hiking the 70% line up to 75%. “The LABI endorsement sends a strong signal to voters whether or not their lawmakers are voting for policies at the Capitol to support job growth and economic expansion back home,” says Brian Landry, executive director of LABI Political Action. “Given the increasing value of this endorsement and the growing role it has had in recent elections, our members felt it was time to raise the bar.”

    —During the past few weeks there have been at least seven changes to the House Education Committee’s membership and there could be more alterations to come. Those removed from the committee received their appointments early on in the term, during a rush to fill seats, and made requests to be reassigned.

    In many respects their replacements represent solid votes in favor of the education reforms of recent years ushered in by former Gov. Bobby Jindal and the business community. Some of those reforms, including vouchers and charter schools, have been targeted by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration for overhauls.

    The committee being stacked with votes to block Edwards’ push is partly the spoils of having an independent speaker. Committee members, however, say some of the governor’s package may slip out to allow for floor hearings. Rep. Chris Broadwater and Rep. Reid Falconer were added a couple weeks ago. Removed from the education committee during the last few weeks were Reps. Dodie Horton, Barry Ivey, Rogers Pope and Julie Stokes.

    They said it: “It’s truly an honor and privilege to be back here today. But I’m glad it is only for a day.” —District attorney and former Senate president Joel Chaisson, on former legislator’s day at the Capitol this week

    Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.

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