13 July 2006

Legislative regular session wrapup -- Senate & Blanco scorecard

In this week’s wrapup we’ll look at voting records in the Senate and for the governor. To remind, 13 bills were selected to compile to the scorecard. Eleven of these appeared as good or bad bills in the Log prior to and during the session, while the other two, HB 685 and HB 699, developed into litmus-test bills during the session. These bills were chosen because they represented important issues on which there was some dissension within the chambers.

A point scale was assigned to each, with more important bills comprising a greater proportion of the index, where low scores represent a very liberal/populist ideology and high scores represent a very conservative/reform ideology. Both the House and Senate were graded on all the same bills except for two, HB 853 which failed in the House and SB 700 which passed the Senate but was prevented from being considered in the House. House members only were scored for the former, Senate members only for the latter.

The bills and their proportions: HB 685 and HB 699 – 13 percent each; HB 1028 and HB 1129 – 11 percent; HB 815 and HB 194 – 9 percent; HB 1130 and HB 853 or SB 700 – 7 percent; SB 18, SB 382, SB 742, and SB 747 – 5 percent.

Usually, not voting was counted as voting against a bill, since that is the practical effect given the minimum thresholds to pass bills (53 in the House except for some matters where it is 70; 20 in the Senate except for some matters where it is 26). However, if a member had asked for an excused absence for that day, a “nay” was not recorded and that member’s figure would be adjusted by not including that vote.

Some things to note:
  • The Senate is more attenuated than the House, with a range of only 57 compared to that of 91. However, it is barely more liberal/populist, with the average score being a 45 to the House’s 46.
  • There’s also more partisan mixture at the top. Democrats hold down the tied-for-second, seventh, and eighth most conservative/reformer places. Overall, Republicans average just a 55 while Democrats average a 39. These Democrats, Sens. Mike Smith, Nick Gautreaux, and Ann Duplessis, are even above the GOP average.
  • Only two GOP senators score at or below the Democrat average. One, Sen. Sherri Smith Cheek, also scored low last year. But the lowest scorer is a surprise, Sen. Craig Romero, at 37. He’s also the biggest relative mover from last year, having gone from second-highest to thirteenth lowest. Whether this has anything to do his challenge for the U.S. House District 3 seat is an open question, and while he is picking up all kinds of conservative and Republican support, his legislative record of this year makes one wonder why.
  • As he did last year, Sen. Max Malone scored highest. Interestingly, his district encapsulates almost in its entirety the district of Rep. Mike Powell, the most conservative/reformer member of the House in the 2006 regular session. Clearly, the area which straddles the Red River in southern Shreveport and southern Bossier City would seem to be the most conservative in the state.
  • And, some statistics on Gov. Kathleen Blanco: adjusting for the fact that HB 194, HB 853, SB 382, and SB 700 never made it to her, computing her score on the basis of the bills signed or vetoed, she scored a 38, below last year’s 42. Again, this makes it hard for her to claim she is either conservative or a reformer.

    Malone Republican 72
    Hollis Republican 64
    Michot Republican 64
    Quinn Republican 64
    Smith, M Democrat 64
    Theunissen Republican 64
    Gautreaux, N Democrat 63
    Duplessis Democrat 61
    Boasso Republican 60
    Barham Republican 59
    Kostelka Republican 55
    Fontenot Republican 54
    Dardenne Republican 53
    Schedler Republican 53
    Amedee Democrat 52
    Adley Democrat 48
    Cain Republican 48
    Chaisson Democrat 48
    Ellington Democrat 48
    Hines Democrat 48
    Lentini Republican 48
    Dupre Democrat 46
    Marionneaux Democrat 45
    Cheek Republican 39
    Fields Democrat 39
    Murray Democrat 37
    Romero, C Republican 37
    Shepherd Democrat 34
    Jackson, L Democrat 33
    Ullo Democrat 32
    Cravins, Sr. Democrat 31
    Broome Democrat 28
    Gautreaux, B Democrat 28
    Jones Democrat 28
    Heitmeier Democrat 27
    McPherson Democrat 24
    Nevers Democrat 24
    Mount Democrat 19
    Bajoie Democrat 15