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

Appell 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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