21 July 2007

Legislative regular session wrapup and rankings: Senate members and governor

This week is the second part of revealing the 2007 Louisiana Legislature scorecard, ranking each member on an ideology scale. The lowest score of 0 represents extreme liberalism/populism from a legislator, while a score of 100 shows the most conservative/reformer sentiment.

Important votes where there was an ideological issue at stake and where there was some minimal lack of consensus in the vote were chosen, each for members of the House, the Senate, and for the governor. This year’s choices particularly were challenging since there was less division than usual especially in the Senate because of the tremendous budgetary surplus. This week’s edition reviews the Senate and Governor Kathleen Blanco; listed here are the key votes assessed and their weighings, given to the relative importance of the vote compared to others in the session (unless noted, vote is for final passage prior to any conference):

  • HB 25 (5 percent) – broadens the women’s “right to know” provisions in pre-natal counseling to include information that the fetus may feel pain if aborted. Voting “yes” is conservative/reform.
  • HB 407 (5 percent) – continues adding an extra fee onto drivers’ licenses for litter reduction. Voting “no” is conservative/reform.
  • HB 436 (5 percent) – reforms the indigent defense system to make it more efficient and cost-effective. Voting “yes” is conservative/reform.
  • SB 195 (5 percent) – attempts to privatize the state-owned insurer. Voting “yes” is conservative/reform.
  • SCR 76 (20 percent) – votes to approve a large amount of spending on the rebuilding of the Medical Center of Louisiana New Orleans. Voting “no” is conservative/reform.
  • HCR 10 second vote (20 percent) – vote to exceed the state’s constitutional spending cap. Voting “no” is conservative/reform.
  • SB 22 (10 percent) – would have relaxed the almost-impossible recall petition standards for elected officials. Voting “yes” is conservative/reform.
  • SB 40 (10 percent) – would have relaxed ethics standards relative to casting votes. Voting “no” is conservative/reform.
  • SB 320 (10 percent) – would have relaxed ballot security standards for elections. Voting “no” is conservative/reform.
  • SB 365 – (10 percent) – would have changed capital budgeting procedures to bring more transparency and efficiency to the outlay process. Voting “yes” is conservative/reform.

    (As always, if a senator asked for leave, as did occur on several occasions, the score was adjusted for that. If leave was not asked for, it was counted as a vote not for the conservative/reform side.)

    And thus the ranking is:
    Quinn 100 Republican
    Cassidy 95 Republican
    Michot 88 Republican
    Lentini 84 Republican
    Malone 75 Republican
    Romero, C 70 Republican
    Schedler 68 Republican
    Barham 65 Republican
    Hollis 65 Republican
    Kostelka 60 Republican
    Amedee 56 Democrat
    Ullo 55 Democrat
    Adley 50 Democrat
    Mount 50 Democrat
    Chaisson 45 Democrat
    McPherson 45 Democrat
    Nevers 45 Democrat
    Cain 40 Republican
    Cheek 40 Republican
    Ellington 40 Democrat
    Smith, M 40 Democrat
    Theunissen 40 Republican
    Dupre 35 Democrat
    Gautreaux, N 35 Democrat
    Jones 35 Democrat
    Murray 35 Democrat
    Shepherd 33 Democrat
    Boasso 31 Democrat
    Cravins 31 Democrat
    Duplessis 31 Democrat
    Fontenot 30 Republican
    Gautreaux, B 30 Democrat
    Broome 25 Democrat
    Fields 25 Democrat
    Jackson, L 25 Democrat
    Marionneaux 20 Democrat
    Heitmeier 15 Democrat
    Bajoie 6 Democrat
    Hines 5 Democrat

    It’s difficult to make comparisons because of the different kinds of instruments and weighings used, but with that in mind, the Senate actually turned up a little less liberal/populist than the House, with an average score around 44. As in the House, a big difference emerged between Republicans and Democrats, with the typical Republican scoring a 70 and the typical Democrat a 23. Sen. Julie Quinn got the only ultimate conservative/reformer score of 100, while Pres. Don Hines nearly did the opposite, recording a score of 5. The highest Democrat score was a 56, exceeding only four Republicans.

    And, finally, on to Gov. Blanco. She was graded on HB 25 (10 percent), HB 407 (15 percent), HB 436 (10 percent), SB 195 (10 percent), and four other bills:
  • HB 273 (15 percent) – weakens campaign finance laws by allowing candidates not to report their own contributions to their candidacies
  • HB 960 (10 percent) – abolishes the Insurance Rating Commission
  • SB 1 (15 percent) – makes cosmetic changes to indigent health care by the state
  • SB 341 (15 percent) – allows non-taxpayers to receive state tax dollars just for filing

    A perfect conservative/reform score would be for her to sign HB 25, HB 436, HB 960, and SB 195, while vetoing HB 273, HB 407, SB 1, and SB 341. She signed all of them except SB 195 giving her a score of 30, not much above the Democrat average for the House and the Senate, although again different indicators were used making comparisons inexact.
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