(David Mansdoerfer) – After a very long and tedious process, in which Citizen Outreach read through all 1,114 bills proposed in the 76th session of the Nevada State Legislature, we are proud to announce that our legislative report card has now been published.
Now that the report card is out, we think it is important to be transparent in the methodology that was used to create these ratings.
First, we decided to adopt an amended version of what the House Republican Study Committee uses to determine which bills to support or oppose in Congress. Using the five criteria of less government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, individual freedom, and stronger families, we went through all 1,114 bills proposed in the legislature and determined that 62—31 in the Assembly and 31 in the Senate—fell into one or more of these categories.
While most of the bills that were decided upon had to do with tax or fee increases, several of the bills we included focused on new regulatory oversight on auto body shops, hair braiders, music therapists, and dieticians.
Using these 62 bills, we created an Excel spreadsheet and recorded the votes of each members of the Assembly and Senate. (Side point. While legislative report cards are subjective in nature, the only part that should be subjective is what bills are chosen to be rated – not how accessible they are to lobbyists.) Based on the recorded vote, we scored legislators by giving them one point for each bill in which they voted in accord with Citizen Outreach’s position. A vote in opposition of Citizen Outreach’s position would result in a score of 0 for that vote.
Two bills, AB561 and SB231, were rated twice due to their importance. AB561, which extended the $600 million temporary tax that was supposed to sunset in June of 2011, represented a failed promise and a hit on the pocketbook of Nevada residents. While many on the left try to argue that Nevada residents won’t see a difference in their banking accounts, the truth is, originally, they were promised that they would have more money starting in June of 2011. That is why Citizen Outreach chose to rate this bill twice.
SB231, which authorized a person who holds a permit to carry a concealed firearm while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, restored the 2nd Amendment right to Nevada students.
On top of this, each legislature who signed the taxpayer protection pledge received an extra point.
In analyzing the results, Ed Goedhart received the top score in the Assembly and Elizabeth Halseth and Don Gustavson received the top scores in the Senate.
For transparency purposes, Citizen Outreach CEO Dan Burdish worked out of Assemblyman Goedhart’s office during the 76th legislative session. But, before you go crowing that these ratings were designed to put Assemblyman Goedhart on top, we would like to remind you that Goedhart also received the top score in the NPRI’s Legislative Reports Card. In addition, Assemblyman Goedhart did not receive the highest score; that distinction went to Senators Gustavson and Halseth.
Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers scored well across the board. It is important to note that Assemblyman Ellison, Hardy and Hansen, as well as Senator Brower, who didn’t sign the pledge, scored as high, if not higher, than some of the pledge signers.
All in all, we believe that these ratings will help conservatives differentiate between who votes as a conservative and who doesn’t. For the most part, Democrats stuck to their principles throughout the 76th legislative session. The same, however, cannot be said of many Republicans.
(Mr. Mansdoerfer is the Director of Legislative Affairs for Citizen Outreach. He holds a Master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis in international relations and state & local policy from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. You can follow him on Twitter at @DPMANSDOERFER)