Category Archives: Blog

Chamber night with the Mudbugs

Let’s Pack George’s Pond!

Come support the home team and Northwest Louisiana Food Bank on March 31

 

It’s a competition! Members of the Bossier and Shreveport Chambers are invited to come out on Friday, March 31 to support the Mudbugs as they battle the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. The game kicks off at 7:11pm.
Check out these special deals for Chamber night!
$10 tickets
$5 drink and hot dog/hamburger
Pre-game party from 5:45-6:45 
Bring a canned good for the NWLA Food Bank!
To get your tickets at this discounted rate of $10 plus tax, contact Kimberly Jacks at (318) 840-3542 or kimberly@mudbugshockey.com. Don’t forget to mention you are with the Bossier Chamber!
On this special night, the Mudbugs want to see which Chamber can bring the most canned food for their drive to benefit the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana. Be sure to bring a canned food item and join us for the game.

Join us for the LABI Legislative Outlook

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce along with the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the North Louisiana Economic Partnership are partnering to host the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s 2017 Legislative Outlook Series here in Northwest Louisiana. LABI President Stephen Waguespack will be the speaker for the event.

 

Join us Tuesday, March 28 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Regions Tower, Wheless Auditorium (below the atrium at the foot of the waterfall stairs) at 333 Texas Street, Shreveport, LA 71106. Get your tickets here.

 

Parking available in Regions Center with access off of Milam Street. Take the elevator to the 2nd floor.

New Member Spotlight: Greer’s Lawn Care LLC

A native of Shreveport, Trey Greer formed Greer’s Lawn Care more than five years ago and provides service to the Greater Shreveport-Bossier area as well as East Texas. Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, Trey jumped at the opportunity to start his own lawn care business and began his company while he was a college student at LSUS. Greer’s Lawn Care focuses on lawn and landscape maintenance for commercial and residential properties. Additional services include bush hogging, dirt work, gravel driveways, and house pads.

Trey prides himself on providing service excellence by meeting the customers’ wants and needs in a timely and efficient manner. Greer’s Lawn Care presently has two trucks operating for the business and future plans include growth in irrigation and landscape design. “I take ownership in helping others while enjoying all aspects of the industry,” Greer said. The Greer Lawn Care website launches next week. Be sure to check out the new website at www.greerslawncare.net or for pricing and availability call Trey Greer directly at (318) 230-3560.

Don’t miss this networking opportunity: Morning Blend, Speed Networking

Grow your business database at our speed networking breakfast

Want to get new leads for your business? Looking for a quick way to meet 30, 40, 50 or more people? Morning Blend: Speed Networking is the place for you!

 

This program is designed to allow attendees the quick and entertaining opportunity to introduce themselves and pitch their company through a fast rotation that will keep people engaged and allow for maximum exposure in minimal time.

 

March 23 | 8 a.m. | Azalea Hall
Members $20 :: Future Members $25 with RSVP (Breakfast Included)
Don’t forget: bring 50+ business cards to the event!

Join us in celebrating 70 years at our Open House

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce is hosting an Open House event on Thursday, March 30 from 3-6 p.m.
Join the Bossier Chamber Staff and its Board of Directors as they host an official reveal of the 2017 Community Guide & Membership Directory.
Come by the Bossier Chamber office at 710 Benton Road to pick up your 2017 directory and visit with other Chamber members. The Annual Report, Chamber push card, and information regarding the new “Be Bossier” campaign will also be available at the Open House. Don’t miss it!
 

2017 Community Guide and Membership Directory: Our directories have arrived! Members are welcome to come pick up their Chamber Membership Directory at our office any day, Monday through Friday, during normal business hours.
Bossier Chamber board member and Gibsland Bank & Trust Chief Marketing Officer Rick Holland says “The Chamber’s Membership Directory is one of the most powerful tools I have.”
Get yours at our Open House or at your earliest convenience.

Political Chatter from Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics

Political Chatter from LaPolitics

— ON THE HUNT: Former Cassidy hand Hunter Hall is D.C.-bound to take on a new gig with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Hall is the incoming special assistant to the secretary.

— Jay Suire, a candidate in the Crowley-based House special election, has a new ad up on TV touting his “prof-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-tax” stances. WATCH IT

— Retired Col. Rob Maness has endorsed fellow Air Force combat veteran Raymond Crews in Bossier’s House District 8 election.

— Lobbyist Cary Koch has signed on as the executive director Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild.

— The Louisiana State Medical Society recently hired Lauren Bailey as the new vice president of legal affairs. Bailey joins LSMS Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jennifer Marusak on the legislative team for the state’s largest physician association.

— The 2017 Press Club of New Orleans’ “Excellence in Journalism Awards” is officially scheduled for July 8.

— Judge Allison H. Penzato will be sworn in as the newest judge of the First Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday.

— The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation is taking applications for the position of assistant executive director. LEARN MORE

— The Louisiana State Bar Association will release its report on Thursday calling on the Legislature to “adopt sentencing and correction policies that reflect evidence-based and data-driven solutions to reducing incarceration rates.”

— Andrea Mahfouz, the municipal clerk for the City of Westlake, has become the Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association’s new 2017-2018 president.

— Joint Statement from Paul Salles, president & CEO of the Louisiana Hospital Association, and Jennifer McMahon, executive director of the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans, regarding the American Health Care Act… READ IT ALL

— Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging them to protect Medicaid expansion as they consider a replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

— Last week, Congressman Mike Johnson testified before the House Appropriations Committee on three separate occasions to advocate for investment into Louisiana’s water infrastructure, transportation infrastructure and defense installations like Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base.

— Today the Tax Foundation released the 2017 version of its annual “Facts & Figures” report, which “tells you everything you need to know about Louisiana’s taxes and finances in one convenient place and how your state compares with the rest of the country.” THE REPORT

— Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser took time Monday to address a group of more than 300 tour operators and travel writers to promote Louisiana at the Travel South Domestic Showcase held in Branson, Missouri. The rest of this week he will be engaged in Washington, D.C., with the National Lieutenant Governors Association and the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board, which Nungesser heads, while testifying at the U.S. International Trade Commission sunset review on retaining current shrimp antidumping orders.

Starns outlines small business policy; honors state Rep. Horton

Dawn Starns, state Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, presented state Representative Dodie Horton with a Guardian of Small Business award on Tuesday morning, as part of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce’s Government Relations Seminar Series, sponsored by Valveworks USA. Starns spoke of Horton’s work in the difficult Ways and Means committee last year, as the state faced a growing budget crisis.

“I’m happy to work with legislators who understand that whatever you do (in the legislature) affects someone else,” Starns said.

Starns laid out the policies of the NFIB, both on the federal and state level at Tuesday’s discussion. The NFIB’s national platforms are: tax reform, healthcare reform and regulatory reform. “We let legislators know – this is going to be the impact” of the different legislation /bills.

While Governor John Bel Edwards has his focus on equal pay and raising the minimum wage, Starns said NFIB’s “No. 1 priority for this year is tax reform.”

“We may not see it but we’re going to try,” she added.

NFIB’s stance on equal pay, according to Starns, is that Louisiana has remedies in its existing law to make sure people are paid equally. And, on minimum wage, the organization is strongly against Louisiana creating its own law for a minimum wage. “Let businesses handle that themselves,” she said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition.”

And, as far as tax reform goes, the state has spent the last two years increasing taxes. While people may not be feeling the increase every day, Starns points out if the state added a gas tax, which is an idea that has been floated around, consumers and small business owners would feel it more.

“Good policy ultimately helps everybody,” Starns said, as there are other areas that need reform the legislature should be looking at, not just cherry-picking certain policies and continuing to raise taxes.

These stances from the NFIB are ones that Horton stands behind as well. “My goal is to have less taxes and less government intrusion,” she told the crowd on Tuesday. Hence, the reason she was given the NFIB’s award for her work in 2016. “When you make policy, it has to be what’s best for the majority,” she added.

ICYMI: Rep. Johnson Advocates for Investment in Louisiana

Rep. Johnson testified before the Appropriations Committee to advocate on behalf of funding for Louisiana’s water infrastructure, transportation & defense installations

Washington D.C. – Last week, Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) testified before the House Appropriations Committee on three separate occasions to advocate for investment into Louisiana’s water infrastructure, transportation infrastructure and defense installations like Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base. All three of these areas play an important role not only in Louisiana, but in our continued growth as a nation.

 

Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

“I recently learned that Louisiana’s Fourth Congressional District contains five of the nine Louisiana Department of Transportation’s (LA DOTD) state sectors, making it the largest. Within that area, my district contains 3,403 bridges and a total of over 20,000 miles of local and interstate roadway. It is also home to four shallow draft port authorities, with 485 miles of navigable waterways, seven freight railroads and 875 miles of railroad track. Every one of these areas are in need of attention.”

 

Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

“Today I ask the committee to help fund dredging needs that will provide much needed resources related to flooding, navigation benefits, and not forget the tremendous benefit shallow-draft waterways and ports have in bringing jobs back to the United States. The role our inland waterway systems play is an integral part of our nation’s maritime system and is critically important to our prosperity as a country. In Louisiana’s Fourth District, some of our biggest challenges, and yet some of our greatest opportunities, revolve around port infrastructure and further development of the navigation of our rivers.”

 

Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

“I have long been an advocate for the members of our military and their families, and I’ve made recent visits to both Ft. Polk and Barksdale to get the very latest assessments from the commanding officers at each installation. Their importance to our wider military mission cannot be overstated. The need for immediate action in restoring and maintaining their sometimes decades-old infrastructure and equipment is urgent.”

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Congressman Johnson is currently serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee as well as the Committee on Natural Resources. He was elected in December 2016 to serve Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District by the largest margin of victory in his region in more than 50 years.

Rep. Johnson Testifies on Behalf of Barksdale AFB and Fort Polk Funding

Washington D.C. – On Thursday, Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on the importance of funding for missions at Barksdale Air Force Base and Fort Polk Army Base in Louisiana. In his first month in Congress, Rep. Johnson visited both installations and spoke with the military members on base to identify and address their concerns.

Rep. Johnson has two of the nation’s premier military facilities within his district and has made supporting and protecting our men and women in uniform one of his top priorities. His testimony focuses on prioritizing our nuclear enterprise so that we may remain an unstoppable force on the world stage and the lack of adequate funding for out Army installations.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger released the following statement on Rep. Johnson’s testimony:

“Our nation’s nuclear enterprise and Army force structure are two of the most pressing issues for our military. Johnson spoke to the need to address these issues before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and we appreciate his interest and focus in building up our military and providing for our defense.”

Rep. Johnson released the following statement:

“I have long been an advocate for the members of our military and their families, and I’ve made recent visits to both Ft. Polk and Barksdale to get the very latest assessments from the commanding officers at each installation. Their importance to our wider military mission cannot be overstated. The need for immediate action in restoring and maintaining their sometimes decades-old infrastructure and equipment is urgent. Our service men and women put their lives on the line every single day, and they should be equipped with every resource they may need to successfully complete their mission and return home safely. I stand with President Trump in his commitment to fully support and rebuild our military as a top priority.”

A video of the full testimony can be found here.

The text of his testimony can be found here.

SHRM Legislative Update: ACA Repeal, Replace Advances Through House

From the Society of Human Resource Management

Early this morning the House Ways and Means Committee approved the American Health Care Act—to replace tax elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—by a vote of 23-16.

House Republican leadership introduced the legislation March 6. The American Health Care Act was created under the budget reconciliation process and requirements and is limited in its scope to amend only the tax provisions of the ACA. It does not amend the insurance and the underlying coverage requirements of the ACA. Using this process allows supporters of the American Health Care Act to pass changes to the ACA in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 votes needed to override an expected Democratic filibuster.

In introducing the legislation, House Speaker Paul Ryan outlined three steps Congress and the Trump Administration will now take to replace the ACA:

  1. Pass the American Health Care Act.
  2. Make additional changes to the rules that govern the ACA through the regulatory process.
  3. Work with Democrats to pass legislation to address the insurance elements of the ACA that need reform, which will require support of Senate Democrats in order to avert a filibuster.

The Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees began work on the bill this week and the legislation will likely change as it works its way through the legislative process.  The House Budget Committee is expected during the week of March 13 to package the Ways and Means language with provisions from the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is yet to vote on the bill. If passed by the Committees, the legislation could be considered by the full House as early as the week of March 20.

Key issues of interest to the HR profession and the workplace:

  • Reduces employer mandate penalty. Under current law, certain employers are required to provide health insurance or pay a penalty. This bill would reduce the penalty to zero for failure to provide minimum essential coverage. The employer mandate will remain and would have to be repealed through future legislation. The effective date would apply beginning after December 31, 2015, providing retroactive relief to those impacted by the penalty in 2016.
  • Reduces individual mandate penalty. Under current law, most individuals are required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. This bill would reduce the penalty to zero for failure to maintain minimum essential coverage. The individual mandate will remain and would have to be repealed through future legislation. The effective date would apply beginning after December 31, 2015, providing retroactive relief to those impacted by the penalty in 2016.
  • Creates a continuous coverage requirement surcharge. This bill creates a new continuous coverage requirement surcharge. To avoid a 30 percent premium surcharge, individuals must prove that they did not have a gap in creditable coverage beyond 63 continuous days during the 12 months preceding coverage. Individuals aging out of dependent coverage must prove that they enrolled during the first open enrollment period after which dependent coverage ceased. The penalty does not vary by health status but would be greater for older individuals since premiums may vary with age. The penalty lasts for the remainder of the plan year for special enrollments during 2018, and for the 12-month period beginning with the first day of the plan year for 2019 and succeeding years.
  • Delays excise tax on high-value health care plans. The ACA imposed a 40 percent excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage to benefits exceeding certain thresholds ($10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage). Under current law, the tax is scheduled to go into effect in 2020. This bill changes the effective date of the tax for taxable periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2024.
  • Repeals the health insurance tax. The ACA imposed an annual fee on certain health insurers. The proposal repeals this health insurance tax beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.
  • Repeals increase of tax on HSAs. The ACA increased the percentage of the tax on distributions that are not used for qualified medical expenses to 20 percent. This bill lowers the rate to pre-ACA percentages. This change is effective for distributions after Dec. 31, 2017.
  • Repeals the limit on contributions to FSAs. The ACA limits the amount an employer or individual may contribute to a health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to $2,500, indexed for cost-of-living adjustments. This bill repeals the limitation on health FSA contributions for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.

As noted above, the bill does not repeal the ACA insurance reforms, including the following health plan requirements:

    • Coverage of pre-existing conditions;
    • Guarantee availability and renewability of coverage;
    • Coverage of adult children up to age 26;
    • Cap out-of-pocket expenditures;
    • Prohibitions against health status underwriting, lifetime and annual limits, and discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, disability, age, or sex.

Since the legislation does not eliminate the employer mandate, employer reporting requirements under the ACA would not change.