The 13th annual LegisGator Luncheon Aug. 24 at L’Auberge Casino Resort was a tremendous success. In addition to a packed house, there was a full complement of federal and state elected officials. Governor John Bel Edwards kicked off the program with optimism that the state’s financial condition has stabilized. As did most of the speakers, the Governor heaped praise on area businesses and elected leaders for the outstanding amount of industrial growth that is leading the state.
Both U.S. Senators, Bill Cassidy, MD and John Kennedy addressed the crowd. Five of the six Louisiana U.S. Representatives attended including Congressman Steve Scalise, Majority Whip of the U.S. House. Scalise was scheduled to keynote the event in 2017 but those plans changed when he and other congressmen were shot at a baseball practice. Prayers for his recovery were answered and we were pleased that Whip Scalise could be with us. He received a long and rousing standing ovation at the beginning and end of his remarks.
Also speaking were: Congressman Garret Graves; Congressman Mike Johnson; Congressman Ralph Abraham, MD,DVM; and our own Third District Congressman, Clay Higgins. Unable to attend was Rep. Cedric Richmond, who attended last year to give a moving tribute to his friend Scalise, even though they disagree on most issues.
Attorney General Jeff Landry concluded the program before awards were given. This year, 10 members of the Louisiana House and Senate were recognized for various leadership roles: Rep. Neil Abramson, Rep. Stuart Bishop, Sen. Jack Donahue, Rep. Julie Emerson, Rep. Katrina Jackson, Sen. Ronnie Johns, Rep. Terry Landry, Sen. John Smith, Sen. Mike Walsworth, and Sen. Rick Ward.
Rep. Tanner Magee received the Fusion Five Up and Coming Award given annually to a freshman member. Chamber SWLA Governmental Affairs Chair Bart Yakupzack presented the Governmental Affairs Award to Rep. Stephen Dwight of Moss Bluff. 2018 Chamber Board Chair Tobie Hodgkins presented the Chair’s award to former state representative and now Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay. While in the legislature, Danahay was a solid, consistent leader and a strong supporter of the Chamber SWLA pro-SW La. business agenda. Rep. Paula Davis of Baton Rouge received the Legis-Gator of the Year for her efforts to get the state’s revenue issue resolved.
While the program was lengthy, it was significant that we could attract virtually all of the federal delegation to this event. Several statewide officials including Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and State Treasurer John Schroeder attended in addition to the Governor and Attorney General. Almost 50 state legislators attended, the largest number yet.
The purpose of LegisGator is to showcase our region to state and federal officials and to thank them for supporting our pro-business agenda. This is a good opportunity to promote some of the infrastructure needs such as a new I-10 bridge. An increased number of state and federal legislators are now more familiar with our region and our challenges as a result of our LegisGator luncheon. The officials recognize the tremendous growth in Southwest Louisiana, which is driving the state economy.