Robert Tasman is new LCCB executive director
Robert M. Tasman, who has served since 2008 as associate director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops (LCCB), was named as executive director July 1, succeeding Daniel J. Loar, who had directed the organization for the last 12 years.
With main headquarters in Baton Rouge, the LCCB is the policy-making arm of the seven Catholic bishops of Louisiana. The executive director is the chief lobbyist for the Catholic Church with the governor’s office and the state Legislature and works with Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and the other Louisiana bishops to promote Catholic issues in the public square.
“I hope to build on the very positive relationships we have with policymakers and their staffs so that the influence of the church and its teachings can be expressed in a loving and resolute way,” Tasman said. “I also hope to expand those responsibilities to include our federal legislators because many of the issues being discussed have an impact at both levels.”
Tasman’s major role as associate director was advising the bishops on issues related to pro-life, social justice and family. Tasman was appointed last year by Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family.
Tasman holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and theology and a master’s degree in theology with a specialization in Christian social ethics from Boston College. He earned a law degree from Louisiana State University and has been a member of the state bar since 2009.
In the most recent legislative session, Tasman said he was thrilled by a law, signed by Gov. Jindal, that would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital not more than 30 miles away from the abortion facility. Pregnant women also must be given the name and telephone number of the nearest hospital in the event she suffers complications from the abortion.
Because of the requirement that abortion facilities meet the same standards of an ambulatory surgical center, the new law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, may close three of the five abortion clinics in the state, leaving just the two in the Shreveport area open.
Many pro-life successes
“We had some extraordinarily good, pro-life measures passed,” Tasman said, citing another law that would prohibit abortion providers from instructing or delivering materials in schools.
The LCCB also was able to use its influence to obtain a $1 million increase in funding to Catholic schools to pay for the state’s “required services.” It fought a bill that would have kept confidential the way in which the state acquires drugs to be used during a lethal injection. Instead, a resolution passed to study the financial costs of administering the death penalty.
“One of the great myths is that it is somehow cheaper to execute an inmate than it is to give him a life sentence,” Tasman said.
Loar said in his retirement he will continue to work as a religion and American history teacher at St. Theresa Middle School in Gonzales. “All of this is a blessing because I love kids, history and my Catholic faith,” Loar said.
Tasman said he will use the period between now and the April 2015 legislative session to build relationships with legislators and their staffs.
“The nice part is that I can go to them at a time when we can have a productive conversation, not necessarily when I am asking them for anything,” Tasman said.