17 July 2010

Legislative regular session rankings, 2010

The governor did sign HB 1407 and HB 1488. This means the final total of good House bills that made it all the way through was 14.

And finally, here are the voting scorecards for the House, Senate, and governor. First up is explaining the bills and their weighings in the computation. Representatives will be graded on their votes on seven bills which passed both chambers, two that failed to pass it, and a constitutional amendment that got a two-thirds majority in the Senate but not in the House. Senators will be graded on these eight bills that had a vote in both chambers and two others that failed to pass their chamber. The governor will be graded on the seven bills that made it to him for his signature.

This index is to measure ideology and reform impulse. The highest score of 100 represents a perfect conservative/reform voting record, while the lowest score of 0 represents a perfect liberal/populist voting record. Bills that were designated as good or bad were chosen that also had at least some significant dissension within one chamber (several bills that might have been used were unanimously adopted or nearly so by both chambers and thus were not included). Monetary matters such as the budget are not included.

The eight bills that were voted on in both houses and their weighings are:

HB 1171 (15 percent) – grants broad authority to postsecondary institutions of higher learning if they achieve certain performance standards in the areas of tuition and retention of funding.

HB 1247 (15 percent) – prohibits health insurers from including elective abortion in any health care coverage.

HB 1272 (10 percent) – allows presence of licensed handguns in places of worship if authorized for security purposes.

HB 1337 (15 percent) – simplifies and makes more actuarially sound the state’s retirement systems.

HB 1407 (5 percent) – repeals subjective licensure requirements for retail florists.

HB 292 (5 percent) – abandons the closed primary system for federal elections in favor of the blanket primary system.

SB 9 (10 percent) – makes texting while driving illegal.

SB 391 (10 percent) – would have permitted flexibility in budgetary changes when required by a projected deficit.

The two additional ones for the House scorecard that were dealt only by it were:

HB 224 (5 percent) – would have amended the Constitution to prohibit paying the state-funded portion of a pension to a public official convicted of corrupt acts in performing public service.

HB 529 (10 percent) – would have mandated rather than make optional school districts teaching sexual education.

The two additional ones for the Senate scorecard that were dealt only by it were:

SB 348 (5 percent) – would have helped breathing-impaired individuals by banning smoking in many bars and gaming areas.

SB 432 (10 percent) – would have imposed a hydrocarbon processing tax that would discourage such business in the state.

(Since an absence is counted as a “no” vote, that also is reflected in these ranking unless the legislator asked for leave on the day of the vote. In that case, the vote if the overall vote was a defeat is removed from the ranking and the score adjusted to reflect only those votes that occurred when the legislator was not on leave. And the trickiness used in the Senate doesn’t count, either: senators who are recorded as absent can come back and make a declaration as to how they would have voted, but that doesn’t fly with these ranking – you’re either there to vote for it, or you helped defeat it. Votes are those on final passage, except for HB 1272 which passed the House in one form, then was dramatically altered in the Senate; the House vote used here is for concurrence with the Senate.)

The House rankings, in descending order, came out like this:

Pearson 100 Republican
Hines 95 Democrat
Lorusso 95 Republican
Robideaux 95 Independent
Katz 90 Republican
Simon 90 Republican
Burns, H 90 Republican
Chaney 90 Democrat
Connick 90 Republican
Cortez 90 Republican
Danahay 90 Democrat
Henderson 90 Democrat
Carmody 85 Republican
Champagne 85 Democrat
Cromer 85 Republican
Fannin 85 Democrat
Henry 85 Republican
Lambert 85 Republican
Richard 85 Independent
Talbot 85 Republican
Downs 85 Republican
Foil 85 Republican
Landry 85 Republican
Smiley 85 Republican
White 85 Republican
Arnold 80 Democrat
Barras 80 Democrat
Chandler 80 Democrat
Guillory, M 80 Democrat
Hoffman 80 Republican
Leger 80 Democrat
Little 80 Republican
Mills 80 Democrat
Monica 80 Republican
Nowlin 80 Republican
Perry 80 Republican
Pugh 80 Republican
Richardson 80 Republican
Schroder 80 Republican
Smith, J 80 Republican
Templet 80 Republican
Waddell 80 Republican
Greene 75 Republican
Ligi 75 Republican
Billiot 75 Democrat
Gisclair 75 Democrat
Howard 75 Republican
Burns, T 70 Republican
Doerge 70 Democrat
Geymann 70 Republican
Hazel 70 Republican
LaBruzzo 70 Republican
St. Germain 70 Democrat
Abramson 65 Democrat
Burford 65 Republican
Edwards 65 Democrat
Guinn 65 Republican
LeBas 65 Democrat
Pope 65 Republican
Tucker 65 Republican
Anders 61 Democrat
Thibaut 60 Democrat
Badon, B 60 Democrat
Carter 60 Republican
Kleckley 60 Republican
Lopinto 60 Republican
Williams 60 Democrat
Baldone 55 Democrat
McVea 55 Republican
Morris 55 Republican
Wilmott 55 Republican
Dixon 55 Democrat
Hutter 55 Republican
Montoucet 55 Democrat
Honore 50 Democrat
Moreno 50 Democrat
Harrison 50 Republican
Hill 50 Democrat
Jones, S. 50 Democrat
Ponti 50 Republican
Ritchie 50 Democrat
Roy 50 Democrat
Thierry 50 Democrat
Jackson, G 47 Democrat
Barrow 45 Democrat
Brossett 45 Democrat
Dove 45 Republican
Smith, G 45 Democrat
Smith, P 45 Democrat
Johnson 44 Democrat
Badon, A 42 Democrat
Ellington 40 Democrat
Hardy 40 Democrat
Wooton 40 Republican
Aubert 30 Democrat
Burrell 30 Democrat
Gallot 30 Democrat
Jackson, M 30 Independent
LaFonta 28 Democrat
Jones, R. 27 Democrat
Armes 25 Democrat
Richmond 25 Democrat
Stiaes 25 Democrat
Norton 20 Democrat
Franklin 15 Democrat

(Note: State Reps. Dalton Honore and Helena Moreno came into the House late in the session. As such, their scorecards are based only on their votes for HB 1272 and SB 391.)

Several things are worth noting here. The overall average of the House was about 65, making it the most conservative/reform House since ratings began in 2004. While the GOP average of about 74 actually was five points lower than last year, the Democrat average of nearly 56 was by far the highest ever. A number of Democrats were high in the order; in fact, Rep. Simone Champagne who switched to the Republicans at the session’s end actually was only the fifth-highest Democrat. The highest ever score by a Democrat was recorded, as the remarkable transformation of Rep. Walker Hines continued with his scoring of 95, topped only by Republican Rep. Kevin Pearson’s 100. While always sounding reform themes, Hines has gone from introducing very liberal legislation in his first year in office now to voting nearly perfectly conservatively/reformist in his third year. Even the lowest scorer, Democrat Rep. A.B. Franklin, mustered at least a 15. Notably, the lowest-scoring Republican, Rep. Ernest Wooton, started his legislative career as a Democrat and after the session concluded said he was turning independent.

The Senate also produced some surprises:

Donahue 95 Republican
Walsworth 95 Republican
Alario 90 Democrat
Amedee 90 Democrat
Appel 85 Republican
Claitor 85 Republican
Crowe 85 Republican
Mount 85 Democrat
Riser 85 Republican
Broome 80 Democrat
Guillory, E 80 Democrat
Morrish 80 Republican
Smith, J 80 Democrat
Thompson 80 Democrat
Kostelka 75 Republican
Long 75 Republican
Martiny 75 Republican
Cheek 70 Republican
Duplessis 70 Democrat
Erdey 70 Republican
Gautreaux, B 70 Democrat
Hebert 70 Independent
McPherson 70 Democrat
Shaw 70 Republican
Gautreaux, N 65 Democrat
Quinn 65 Republican
Adley 65 Republican
Heitmeier 65 Democrat
Nevers 60 Democrat
LaFleur 56 Democrat
Chaisson 55 Democrat
Chabert 55 Democrat
Jackson, L 55 Democrat
Michot 55 Republican
Dorsey 45 Democrat
Morrell 40 Democrat
Murray 30 Democrat
Marionneaux 26 Democrat
Peterson 25 Democrat

Incredibly, the Senate made a huge turnaround last year from being its most liberal/populist ever by far to its most conservative/reformist (after four years of being fairly moderate). This marks only the second time since 2004 that it was more conservative/reformist at almost 69 than the House. In fact, only five senators, all Democrats, scored below 50 and some high scorers were Democrats. Sen. Mike Walsworth nearly pulled 100, missing by just one vote and on that one he was absent but later notified he would have voted for the conservative/reform position, but while close may count in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear war, it doesn’t here. But Sens. John Alario and Jody Amedee scored the highest ever for a Democrat, with Alario’s name shockingly associated with “reform.” The same could be said for longtime populist Sen. Joe McPherson who graded at 70. Even the lowest scorer from last year, Sen. Eric LaFleur, managed to sneak into conservative/reform territory, and while a chronic low scorer from the House, Sen. Karen Peterson, managed to nail down the bottom spot in her first year in the Senate, she still mustered a 25.

All in all, this was the most conservative/reform Legislature in the 2004-10 span with an average of 66, with Republicans around 75 and Democrats about 58. Maybe hard economic times forces into policy greater recognition of reality of what works.

Finally, Gov. Bobby Jindal ended up signing everything on the list that came his way. Since this included six good bills and one bad bill, adjusting his score for those he had no authority over produces a high score of 93. So at least on non-monetary measures, Jindal continues to burnish his conservative/reform credentials.

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