9:30AM Registration and networking
10:00-10:20AM Governor John Bel Edwards
10:20-11:00AM Q&A with Governor John Bel Edwards
11:00AM-Noon House panel discussion
1:00-2:00PM Senate panel discussion
About our Speakers
John Bel Edwards
State of Louisiana
The son of a sheriff and charity hospital nurse, John Bel Edwards understood the importance of serving others from an early age. From his service as an active duty Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army to his time in the Louisiana House of Representatives, Gov. Edwards has always put people first.
John Bel was born seventh out of eight children to Sheriff Frank Jr. and Dora Jean Edwards. He grew up hunting and fishing in Amite, a rural town in Tangipahoa Parish. He and First Lady Donna Edwards began dating while students at Amite High School. After graduating top of his class, Gov. Edwards attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.
As a cadet, he completed Airborne School and served as vice-chairman of the panel that enforces the West Point Honor Code. The governor graduated from West Point in 1988, commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served on active duty for 8 years, earning Airborne, Ranger and Jumpmaster status, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He and the first lady married in 1989. They have three children: Samantha Bel, Sarah Ellen and John Miller.
After commanding a parachute infantry regiment in the 82nd airborne, Gov. Edwards retired from the Army with the rank of captain. He moved back home and earned a law degree from Louisiana State University before opening a civil law practice in his hometown of Amite.
In 2008, the people of House District 72 elected him to the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he represented the people of Amite, Greensburg, Kentwood and Hammond for eight years before being elected governor in November 2015.
On January 11, 2016, John Bel Edwards was sworn in as the 56th Governor of Louisiana.
In his first official act, Gov. Edwards signed an executive order to expand Medicaid coverage to 430,000 of the state’s working poor. The decision to expand Medicaid cut Louisiana’s uninsured rate from 24 percent to just 10 percent, saving lives and improving the quality of life for citizens across the state. Gov. Edwards considers this the easiest big decision he’s had to make as Governor.
Upon taking the oath of office, Gov. Edwards inherited the largest budget deficit in Louisiana’s history, following years of budget mismanagement, which included cuts to higher education and vital state resources and services. In 2016, the state faced a $1 billion shortfall to close out the last quarter of the fiscal year. And in 2017, the state faced a $2 billion deficit in the governor’s first full fiscal year.
Gov. Edwards and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers worked hard to stabilize the state’s budget through a balanced approach. Today, higher education funding has been restored, the state’s gross domestic product is the highest it’s ever been and Louisiana’s budget is balanced and stable.
One of the governor’s top priorities coming into office was comprehensive criminal justice reform. For decades, mass incarceration plagued Louisiana, and the state led the nation in incarceration rates. Gov. Edwards signed sweeping bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation in 2017 that targets recidivism and invests in treatment programs. In 2018, the state saw a 20 percent decrease in the number of people imprisoned for non-violent crimes. Under his leadership, Louisiana shed the title of the most incarcerated state in the country.
On November 16, 2019, the people of Louisiana re-elected Gov. Edwards to another four-year term. On January 13, 2020, Gov. Edwards was sworn into his second term as the 56th Governor of Louisiana.
Gov. Edwards continues to do what the people sent him to Baton Rouge to do: Put Louisiana First. Hundreds of thousands are insured, Louisiana’s budget is stable and Louisiana is open for business.
Rep. Tanner Magee
Tanner D. Magee (Republican) was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2015 representing District 53 which includes the parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne. He was elected to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2020.
In the Legislature, Magee serves on the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, House Ways and Means, House and Governmental Affairs Committee, House Executive Committee, House Select Leadership Committee, Joint Select Committee on Louisiana Economic Recovery, Co-Chairman of the Louisiana Commission on Justice System Funding. He serves as ex-officio on all standing committees of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He is a member of the Louisiana Judicial College and Judicial Compensation Commission. Speaker Pro Tem Magee has previously served on the Appropriations Committee; member of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; member of the House Committees on Natural Resources and Environment, Civil Law, Health and Welfare, and Judiciary.
Rep. Paula Davis
Paula Davis was first elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 to serve a four-year term. Representative Davis currently serves as the first Chairwoman of the House Commerce Committee and is a member of the House Executive Committee, House Select Leadership Committee, Joint Select Committee on Louisiana Economic Recovery, and the Governor’s Resilient Louisiana Commission. During her first term, Paula served on the Insurance; Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs; Ways and Means; and Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay committees. Paula also currently serves as Chair of the Capital Region Legislative Delegation, is a member of the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Louisiana Republican Legislative Delegation.
Rep. Jerome Zeringue
Rep. Zeringue currently serves as the State Representative for House District #52. His committee assignments include Appropriations, Chairman, Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, Chairman, Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay, Legislative Budgetary Control Council, State Bond Commission, House Select Leadership Committee and Joint Select Committee on Louisiana Economic Recovery.
Rep. Jason Hughes
Rep. Jason Hughes serves as a member Louisiana House of Representatives representing House District 100 in New Orleans. As a first term legislator, Rep. Hughes has been appointed by the Speaker of the House to five influential House committees, including: Ways and Means; Health and Welfare; Judiciary; Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay; and the Select Committee on Homeland Security. Most recently, Rep. Hughes was unanimously elected to the powerful House Appropriations Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.
Sen. Mike Reese
Sen. Reese was elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 2019. He serves as Chair of the Louisiana Tax Institute, Vice Chair of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, Joint Legislative Committee on Technology and Cybersecurity and is a member of the Judiciary B Committee, the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs, Labor and Industrial Relations, Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay.
Sen. Sharon Hewitt
Sen. Hewitt is proud to represent Senate District 1, which includes St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Orleans parishes. She serves as Chairwoman of the Senate Republican Caucus and Chairwoman of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, which oversees redistricting efforts and approves thousands of gubernatorial appointments.
Sen. Bret Allain
Sen. Bret Allain was elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 2011 from District 21 that includes Iberia, Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne Parishes. He is currently serving his 3rd and final term in the Louisiana State Senate. In the Senate, Bret serves as Chairman of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee. He also has been appointed to serve on Senate and Government Affairs, Natural Resources and the Agriculture committees. He also serves on Jt. Budget, Jt. Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay and State Bond Commission.
Sen. Regina Barrow
Sen. Regina Ashford Barrow joined the Louisiana Legislature as the Louisiana State Representative for District 29 in 2005. She served three consecutive terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives. In 2015, Sen. Barrow was elected to serve District 15 as a Louisiana State Senator, where she is currently serving.
Sen. Barrow currently serves as: Chairwoman of the Select Committee on Women and Children, Vice Chairman of the Health and Welfare committee, member of the Finance committee, member of the Joint Legislative Budget committee, member of the Judiciary C committee, member of Labor and Industrial Relations committee, and member of the Joint Medicaid Oversight committee.