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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.

The Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, the state’s largest and most influential business lobby, commanded considerable influence over the state Legislature this year, according to its annually released “scorecard.”

Seventy percent of the Legislature – a record 97 lawmakers – sided with LABI at least 80% of the time during the two sessions this year.

Though pitched as bipartisan, the scorecard showed 69 of 144 lawmakers who voted with the business lobby 100% of the time were Republicans. Only one Democrat was among the next 20 legislators who backed LABI’s positions of specific bills in 90% of the votes.

Senate President Page Cortez, a Lafayette Republican, backed all of LABI’s positions on bills. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, voted with LABI 91% of the time.

Cortez and Schexnayder, who assumed the top posts in the Legislature this year, delegated much of their lawmaking to business lobbyists this year. The two formed a legislative task force chaired by a business lobbyist and composed of business executives to come up with ideas for "coronavirus recovery."

The bills on which LABI “scored” members, included efforts to limit liability for businesses, especially insurance companies, as part of a “tort reform” push. Also, LABI’s favored bills sent $275 million in grants to businesses, and expanded tax breaks for firms.

The results are the latest indication that the heavily Republican state Legislature is perhaps more friendly to business groups than ever before.

The results are the latest indication that the heavily-Republican state Legislature is perhaps more friendly to business groups than ever before.

The members who voted with the business lobby the least were state Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who voted with LABI 23% of the time, and state Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, who voted with LABI 24% of the time.