The Bastrop/Morehouse Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual legislative luncheon on July 14 to honor Senator Francis Thompson, Senator Mike Walsworth, Representative Bubba Chaney, Representative Katrina Jackson and Representative Jay Morris.
Walsworth, Chaney, Jackson and Morris were at the lunch while Thompson had to attend a different event. The offices of Senator David Vitter and Representative Vance McAllister were also represented by staff members.
The format for the event allowed each Representative or Senator to take the floor and make comments about their work over the past year and then a Q&A session was held.
Mike Walsworth used his comments to highlight the budget constrictions at the state level, and how he is working to make sure our economy and health care needs are met. He also highlighted that he believes this is the most exciting time for Morehouse Parish in the last decade, particularly with the construction of Drax Biomass in Beekman and the creation of new jobs by both the construction and Drax itself. Katrina Jackson highlighted her support of the Affordable Care Act as a tool for growing the workforce. Jackson said that public officials talk about creating a workforce and needing people but that healthcare and education are important components of that process. Jackson also spoke about her role in drafting the pro-life legislation signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal in West Monroe. This bill requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital.
Jay Morris also spoke about how local representatives are being forced to do more with less but focused on how this concept is not a new thing for Morehouse Parish. "You guys have a lot of pluck and are able to be resilient in the face of a lot of problems," Morris said.
He then emphasized the importance of business and industry for Morehouse Parish and rural communities.
Bubba Chaney was the last speaker, and he presented a series of statistics to the audience including information about a fund that seeks to build the workforce and stronger communities. He helped ensure that $1 million was set aside for the pharmacy school at ULM — the only pharmacy school in the state. The funds will help them continue to keep their accreditation and conduct research and purchase materials.