Sep 042013

By Linda Kor
The 11th annual Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card was published last Thursday, showing that, overall, Arizona lawmakers are on a slight decline from last year’s scores when it comes to what the institute calls “their support of principles of limited constitutional government.”
The institute is a conservative public policy advocacy and research organization based in Phoenix.
The Report Card scores Arizona lawmakers on each piece of legislation assessed in one of four categories for whether it expands liberty consistent with the Arizona Constitution or restricts liberty.
According to the institute, the Report Card analyzed 326 votes taken by the legislature in 2013, with consideration to legislation in the areas of education reform, tax and budget policy, regulation and constitutional government.
For this region, the grades were up slightly. Lawmakers in District 6, which includes Holbrook, Joseph City, Snowflake and Taylor, did fairly well, with Senator Chester Crandell receiving a B+, up from a B- last year; while Representative Brenda Barton and Representative Bob Thorpe each received a B, with Barton’s grade the same as last year and Thorpe up from a B-. All three are Republicans.
Lawmakers in District 7, which includes Winslow, as well as the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache reservations, did not fair so well. Senator Albert Hale received a D grade, up from a D- last year; while Representative Jamescita Peslakai, a freshman lawmaker, received an F+, as did Representative Jack Jackson, who received a D- last year. All three are Democrats.
Beyond the individual legislator’s grades, the report card includes an assessment of each bill’s impact on the status quo, with “high impact,” “moderate impact,” and “incremental impact” categories.
This year the difference between the parties with regard to high impact bills was 65 and 64 points in the Senate and House, respectively, dramatic increases from the 37-point gaps in 2012. With respect to high impact bills, Republicans scored 77 percent versus an average score of 12 percent by Democrats in the Senate; and in the House, Republicans scored 81 percent versus an average score of 17 percent by Democrats.
To view the report and a breakdown of the individual ratings on each lawmaker, visit The Report Card is meant to be a tool for general research and for accountability, helping voters assess the work of their elected representatives.