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Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, right, makes announcements after calling the joint session to order as House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, left, watches as the 85 day regular legislative session begins Monday March 9, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder announced Friday afternoon the creation of a private-sector task force to advise the Louisiana Legislature on the re-opening of the state’s economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s now time to come together to fight a historic economic crisis. We must draw on our collective knowledge and expertise to chart the way forward,” Cortez said in a press release.

Schexnayder added that Louisiana businesses and workers need the help of elected officials at all levels of government “to lay the best possible foundation for a full recovery.”

Efforts to stem the community spread of the highly contagious and often deadly virus has led to the widespread shuttering of businesses, high unemployment and dramatically lower tax receipts.

In addition to legislators, the Louisiana Legislative Advisory Task Force on Economic Recovery will include members working in a variety of businesses from oil and gas to banking to trucking. “This group of private-sector leaders will offer advice and perspective that will help state officials set the stage for long-term growth,” Schexnayder said.

The task force is charged with developing comprehensive policy, legislative, and regulatory recommendations to immediately re-start the Louisiana economy and to invest in the long-term recovery of households, workers, and businesses, according to the press release.

“With every challenge, there is opportunity,” said chairman Jason DeCuir, a Baton Rouge-based tax expert. ”It’s a long road ahead, and gathering input to develop solutions is a critical first step.”

The task force's membership skews heavily towards white Republican males.

The first task force meeting will be convened virtually before the end of April with public online viewing capability. The task force will meet virtually and in-person throughout May and June as public health conditions allow and may consider expert testimony.

Legislative leadership will receive a report with formal recommendations from the task force by July 1.

Task Force Legislative Leadership

  • Sen. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, Louisiana President of the Senate
  • Rep. Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, Louisiana Speaker of the House
  • Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
  • Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
  • Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, Chair of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee

Task Force Membership

  • Chair: Jason DeCuir, Ryan (Baton Rouge)
  • Congressional Liaison: David Stokes, Chief of Staff to US Senator John Kennedy
  • Governor’s Appointee: TBD
  • (Non-Legislative) Appointee of the Senate President: TBD
  • (Non-Legislative) Appointee of the House Speaker: Lionel Rainey III
  • Scott Ballard, Ballard Brands (Covington)
  • Dr. Stephen Barnes, ULL Blanco Public Policy Center (Lafayette)
  • Greg Bowser, LCA (Baton Rouge)
  • Gifford Briggs, LOGA, (Baton Rouge)
  • Richard Neal, Golden Nugget (Lake Charles)
  • Blake Chatelain, Red River Bank (Alexandria)
  • Chett Chaisson, Greater Lafourche Port Commission, (Cut Off)
  • David Cresson, CCA Louisiana (Baton Rouge)
  • Representative from ExxonMobil (Baton Rouge) Hank Danos, Danos (Gray)
  • Maura Donahue, Donahue Favret (Covington)
  • Lavelle Edmonson, Marathon Petroleum Company (Garyville)
  • Friday Ellis, small business owner (Monroe)
  • Meryl Kennedy Farr, Kennedy Rice Mill LLC (Mer Rouge)
  • Tommy Faucheux, Dow (Plaquemine)
  • John Finan, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (Baton Rouge)
  • Dr. Craig Green, Baton Rouge Orthopedic Clinic (Baton Rouge)
  • Tyler Grey, LAMOGA (Baton Rouge)
  • Steven Grissom, The Newtron Group (Baton Rouge)
  • Bryan Hanks, Beta Land Services (Lafayette)
  • Beverly Haydel, Sequitur (Baton Rouge)
  • Michael Hecht, GNO Inc. (New Orleans)
  • Art Farve, Performance Contractors (Baton Rouge)
  • Adam Knapp, Baton Rouge Area Chamber (Baton Rouge)
  • Vic Lafont, South Louisiana Economic Council (Houma)
  • Ray Lasseigne, TMR Exploration (Bossier City)
  • Scott Martinez, North Louisiana Economic Partnership (Shreveport)
  • Matt McKay, AllStar Automotive Group (Baton Rouge)
  • Jude Melville, B1Bank (Baton Rouge)
  • Quentin Messer, New Orleans Business Alliance (New Orleans)
  • Katie O'Neal, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (Baton Rouge)
  • Scott Poole, Roy O Martin (Alexandria)
  • Art Price, Badger Oil (Lafayette)
  • Deborah Randolph, Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce (Alexandria)
  • Dave Roberts, Excel (Baton Rouge)
  • Joel Robideaux, Former legislator and former mayor-president of Lafayette (Lafayette)
  • Ruffin Rodrigue, Ruffino’s Restaurant (Baton Rouge)
  • Chris Schouest, Schilling Distributing Company (Lafayette)
  • Loren Scott, Economist (Baton Rouge)
  • Doug Shipley, Fairgrounds Race Course (New Orleans)
  • Craig Spohn, Cyber Innovation Center (Bossier City)
  • Nathalie Simon, Laitram Manufacturing (New Orleans)
  • Dennis Stine, Stine Lumber (Lake Charles)
  • George Swift, The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (Lake Charles)
  • Stephen Waguespack, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (Baton Rouge

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.