09 July 2017

Legislative regular session scores, 2017


With all business disposed of relative to the 2017 Regular Session, legislators and the governor can receive grades (barring a miraculous veto override session). Twelve bills were selected and weighed for computation, all but two having been voted upon in both chambers. These were chosen from the watch list compiled throughout the session. For a bill’s vote(s) to be selected, in one chamber there had to be more than one legislator not voting for the winning or losing side.



Being that passage of bills depends upon the seated membership of a body, not voting is counted as a negative vote. However, if a legislator had a leave of absence granted for that day, his absent votes weren’t counted for bills voted on that day and the score adjusted to take that into account.



Here are the bills with votes for final passage in every case on which the scorecard was computed, with the conservative/reform position and the weighing indicated:




HB 71 (House only) – would have required plebiscites to alter or remove objects related to a military conflict; a conservative/reform vote is for (10 percent).



HB 113 – maintains higher education governing boards’ ability to set fees; a conservative/reform vote is for (10 percent).



HB 681 -- decreases crime deterrence by letting some immediately receive some government benefits after completing a sentence; a conservative/reform vote is against (5 percent).



SB 25 – discourages school choice options by abolishing the education tax credit; a conservative/reform vote is against (10 percent).



SB 67 -- encourages audit compliance of local governments; a conservative/reform vote is for (10 percent).



SB 79 – increases permanently and needlessly corporate income taxes; a conservative/reform vote is against (10 percent).



SB 83 – foists an unneeded hotel occupancy tax hike on much of East Baton Rouge Parish; a conservative/reform vote is against (5 percent).



SB 106 – distracts higher education provision with social service duties; a conservative/reform vote is against (5 percent).



SB 139 – weakens too much crime deterrence with changes to sentence lengths served including parole and probation; a conservative/reform vote is against (5 percent).



SB 162 (Senate only) – would have prevented local governments from mandating inclusionary housing standards; a conservative/reform vote is for (10 percent).



SB 243 – reins in the alternative fuel conversion tax credit; a conservative/reform vote is for (10 percent).



SB 254 – keeps too inflated the Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit; a conservative/reform vote is against (10 percent).



The scores produced made for an unusual year. Whether these came from the relentless pressure to raise taxes, pressure by Gov. John Bel Edwards (and especially using the vessel of Sen. Pres. John Alario) to score policy victories, or something else, the averages for the chambers came in considerably lower than last year’s and below historical norms, indicating a swing away from conservativism/reformism. You know it’s an odd session when House GOP leader Lance Harris at 35 scored lower than the leader of House Democrats Gene Reynolds’ 40, and that past usual high scorers such as Reps. Bob Hensgens and Barry Ivey and Sens. Jack Donahue and Conrad Appel couldn’t break 50.



All in all, since the scorecard’s first computation in 2004, this was the second lowest combined chamber score, just about 44. And while several lower combined Democrat scores had turned up in this period, the 51.5 GOP combined average was the lowest ever.



Some things remained the same. Once again, in the Senate Barrow Peacock scored highest and Karen Peterson (tied) for the lowest, although his score sank from last year and hers increased. In the House, Republicans Steve Pylant and Scott Simon slipped a bit from from last year, but this year their scores gave them the most conservative/reform record along with no-party Dee Richard. At a perfect liberal/populist 0 was Edwards ally Speaker Pro-Tem Walt Leger.



Reviewing the House, unlike the clean demarcation between Republicans and Democrats in the past few years, where few Republicans scored lower than the highest Democrat, partisans were all over the map this year. Among Republicans, barely half the caucus scored above 50 joined by Richard and a pair of Democrats, while the lowest scoring Republican went higher than only 13 Democrats.





Pylant
80
Republican
Richard
80
Independent
Simon
80
Republican
Henry
75
Republican
Hodges
75
Republican
Miguez
75
Republican
Seabaugh
75
Republican
Horton
70
Republican
Morris, Jay
70
Republican
Pugh
70
Republican
Talbot
70
Republican
Crews
65
Republican
Cromer
65
Republican
DeVillier
65
Republican
Edmonds
65
Republican
Hollis
65
Republican
Landry, N
65
Republican
LeBas
65
Democrat
Mack
65
Republican
Schroder
65
Republican
Carmody
61
Republican
Connick
61
Republican
Amedee
60
Republican
Coussan
60
Republican
Falconer
60
Republican
Hilferty
60
Republican
Morris, Jim
60
Republican
Pearson
60
Republican
Stefanski
60
Republican
Stokes
60
Republican
Armes
55
Democrat
Bacala
55
Republican
Havard
55
Republican
Huval
55
Republican
Miller, G
55
Republican
Pope
55
Republican
Barras
50
Republican
Berthelot
50
Republican
Billiot
50
Democrat
Broadwater
50
Republican
Emerson
50
Republican
Foil
50
Republican
Garafalo
50
Republican
Gisclair
50
Democrat
Hazel
50
Republican
Hoffman
50
Republican
Howard
50
Republican
McFarland
50
Republican
Miller, D
50
Democrat
Schexnayder
50
Republican
Shadoin
50
Republican
Thomas
50
Republican
Anders
45
Democrat
Brown, T
45
Independent
Hensgens
45
Republican
Hill
45
Democrat
Ivey
45
Republican
Bagley
40
Republican
Bishop, S
40
Republican
Brown, C
40
Democrat
Carter, S
40
Republican
Chaney
40
Republican
Davis
40
Republican
Jones
40
Democrat
Marino
40
Independent
Reynolds
40
Democrat
Thibaut
40
Democrat
White, M
40
Democrat
Abramson
35
Democrat
Franklin
35
Democrat
Harris, L
35
Republican
Johnson
35
Democrat
Leopold
35
Republican
Magee
35
Republican
Price
35
Democrat
Stagni
35
Republican
Abraham
33
Republican
Norton
33
Democrat
Carter, R
30
Democrat
Cox
30
Democrat
Danahay
30
Democrat
Dwight
30
Republican
Hall
30
Democrat
Jackson
30
Democrat
Jefferson
30
Democrat
Jenkins
30
Democrat
Landry, T
30
Democrat
Lyons
30
Democrat
Pierre
30
Democrat
Zeringue
30
Republican
Carter, G
25
Democrat
Guinn
25
Republican
Bagneris
20
Democrat
Carpenter
20
Democrat
Gaines
20
Democrat
Hunter
20
Democrat
Jordan
20
Democrat
Marcelle
20
Democrat
Moreno
20
Democrat
Smith
20
Democrat
Bouie
10
Democrat
Glover
10
Democrat
Harris, J
10
Democrat
James
10
Democrat
Leger
0
Democrat



In the Senate, that pattern was even more pronounced. Only four Republicans and Democrat John Milkovich (fighting to for reelection in a more conservative district) scored above 50, and one of the lowest scorers was the GOP’s John Smith. That caused the second lowest partisan gap in chamber history, about 9 points, with the lowest of over 2 in 2011 because Democrats voted much more in a conservative/reform vein. This time, the pendulum swung the other way as Democrats’ scores barely nudged lower but Republicans’ fell significantly.



Peacock
65
Republican
Fannin
60
Republican
Milkovich
55
Democrat
Riser
55
Republican
Walsworth
55
Republican
Erdey
50
Republican
Johns
50
Republican
Lambert
50
Republican
Long
50
Republican
Perry
50
Republican
White, B
50
Republican
Gatti
45
Republican
LaFleur
45
Democrat
Morrish
45
Republican
Smith, G
45
Democrat
Tarver
45
Democrat
Appel
44
Republican
Cortez
42
Republican
Martiny
42
Republican
Alario
40
Republican
Allain
40
Republican
Hewitt
40
Republican
Mizell
40
Republican
Colomb
38
Democrat
Chabert
35
Republican
Claitor
35
Republican
Luneau
35
Democrat
Bishop, W
30
Democrat
Carter, T
30
Democrat
Donahue
30
Republican
Mills
30
Republican
Thompson
30
Democrat
Ward
30
Republican
Boudreaux
26
Democrat
Barrow
25
Democrat
Morrell
20
Democrat
Peterson
20
Democrat
Smith, J
20
Republican
Price
Democrat



(note: Price served most of his term in the House prior to winning a special election to a vacant Senate seat in May, but he chose not to take that seat until after all sessions concluded.)



Finally, leading the charge towards liberalism/populism was Edwards, who scored 33. This dropped precipitously from last year and was more in line with his historical norm as a legislator. Perhaps this demonstrates greater facility in directing legislation particularly in the Senate, displaying better ability to line up preferred bills rather than having them stymied and having to accept the products of conservative/reform forces.



Thus concludes, absent an unanticipated, relevant special session, this year’s edition of the Louisiana Legislature Log.

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