The strategic goal of the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce is to strengthen advocacy efforts and develop partnerships with public officials that encourages decision-making that will support growth as well as foster an excellent quality of life for all residents of our parish.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce has established the following policy positions for the 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session that impact economic competitiveness, as well as promote a high quality of life for West Baton Rouge Parish.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber will oppose and / or support legislation that impacts these policies.
In the 2019 Legislative Session, House Bill 578 dedicated economic development proceeds from the Deepwater Horizon Economic Damages Collection Fund to the planning and construction of the La. 415 Bridge, as well as for other infrastructure projects. The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce recognizes the dire need to secure this critical funding for the long-planned La. 415 / La. 1 connector, which would bypass the congested La. 1 and provide another access point to Interstate 10 and the Mississippi River Bridge. Rep. Tanner Magee, who represents District 53, and Sen. Rick Ward, III, R-Port Allen, co-authored the bill to provide the means necessary for the near “shovel-ready” infrastructure project because of work by the Parish, which has provided for the La. 415 corridor study, and more recently the topography survey. The connector will provide an I-10 diversion to detour traffic across the river via the US 190 Bridge during peak traffic times and in the event of an incident on the Horace Wilkinson Bridge.
We will continue to strongly advocate that the funding is fully secured and appropriately prioritized, and we will fight any effort to re-dedicate to another project. West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce will support this project to its completion.
SECURE FUNDING FOR LOCAL AND REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
The funding shortfall for critical transportation and infrastructure projects has been unaddressed for far too long creating a transportation crisis and impeding full economic development potential both locally and regionally. The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce will advocate strongly for securing a new Mississippi River Bridge, including the necessary funding to complete site selection and environmental analyses, in support of the work of the new Capital Area Road and Bridge District (CARBD). The Chamber recognizes the need to secure the financial backing at a sufficient level to provide dedicated funding for a megaproject, specifically a new Mississippi River Bridge (as stated above) and the I-10 widening, and new or upgraded connections easing congestion for residents and businesses located in West Baton Rouge Parish. We will support the CARBD, which will seek to develop project-specific funding options, or a constitutional amendment that places funding approval with the voters. It is our belief that the CARBD would provide for a collaborative effort for the aforementioned megaproject and other projects.
All potential funding measures will be examined by the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, we believe this regional authority would allow the Capital Region to follow the will of the people providing a public election for projects should federal and toll funding become options, in addition to dedicated gas, sales, and property taxes.
PROTECT AND EXPAND LOUISIANA'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT
The Chamber encourages stabilization and protection of Louisiana’s economic development toolkit, and will combat measures that would additionally damage the state’s incentive programs. We support programs like Quality Jobs, Enterprise Zone, FastStart, full funding for Tier 1 activities, and other critical instruments that are currently available. Additionally,, we endorse a streamlined and less ambiguous process with regard to the administration of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP), as well as protecting project confidentiality during the negotiation process.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce opposes any measure that further harms our incentive programs and ability to be competitive with other states, and our organization will fight efforts to place more burdensome mandates on employers and job creators.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce also supports strengthening our local economic development devices.
SUPPORT PRO-GROWTH APPROACH TO STRUCTURAL REFORM EFFORTS
Structural fiscal reforms are essential to maintain Louisiana’s economic vitality, provide industry long-term stability, steady higher education and healthcare financial support, and to maintain a confidence for businesses to grow. We support reform efforts that reduce the costs of operating a business and to make the state more attractive to talented people.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce supports comprehensive fiscal reforms that resolve our state’s recurring budget issues.
PROTECT EMPLOYEES SALARIES, IDENTITIES AND PERSONAL INFORMATION
Employee data such as social security numbers (or partial social security numbers), salaries and addresses are often required by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED), Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) and Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC). This data should be rigorously protected from all public records requests.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce supports confidentiality provisions over employee data that is required disclosure to governmental agencies.
DEFEND K-12 EDUCATION REFORM AND GAINS IN STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce will promote and support expanded access to affordable, reliable, high-quality early childhood education as a means to improve the foundation of our students and encourage lifelong education.
The Chamber will advocate for higher and stabilized achievement standards, inclusive of a fair and balanced teacher and school performance accountability system.
SUPPORT AIR EMISSION STANDARD STABILITY AND FAIRNESS
West Baton Rouge Parish is industry rich, employing a large percentage of the population. The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to make Louisiana’s air quality programs equivalent to, and no more restrictive than, the 1990 amendments to the federal Clean Air Act, and will support legislation and rules that equitably distribute the responsibility for meeting air quality requirements among all emission sources.
The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce will support the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) efforts to promote federal acceptance of reasonable state air quality programs and strongly encourage DEQ to promptly update the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to incorporate said changes.