UPDATE- 64th Assembly Halftime Report: House Rankings

This update corrects a minor formula error. Points changed but for the most part changes to overall rankings remains minor; in averaging all changes to rankings the result was zero. Still, we want to be accurate so we are updating the post to reflect corrected info

The Legislature returns to the Capital today from their crossover break to kick off their second half of debate and decision making, in what has been a very interesting session to date. Parking is once again at a premium at the Capital, and establishment owners in Downtown Bismarck will likely welcome the return of steady business during the weeknights.

Before the Assembly broke, they successfully culled the herd of 936 bills down to 675, which is relatively impressive given the uncertainty surrounding oil extraction tax revenues.

The rumor is already in the air that this session could wrap up early, putting a few days in the bank for the Assembly to come together if needed to address any unforeseen concerns in the biennium. But, that is just that — a rumor, and with revenue projections due out in the very near future, there is just as good a chance they will use up their allotted 80 days in the next few months adjusting and readjusting bills to compensate for the news. Whether that news is good or bad remains to be seen.

While the Legislature was away, the SAB war room went on full alert, digesting a steady diet of frozen pizza and voting records to bring to you all the halftime rankings. Today’s offering covers the House of Representatives. The Senate will follow later.

Background

We started the ranking project last session with the idea of getting an overall feel for the political philosophical leanings of each chamber as a whole, as well as the members which make up that chamber. We look at those leanings through a relatively conservative to libertarian lens — after all, that is the general leaning of this blog (with all comments welcome of course). Thus, democrats don’t score well. Neither do many republicans, although many of the “marker bills” and the preferred votes on each happen to align (not intentionally) with the NDGOP ideals and platform. Much to the chagrin of many conservatives, too many “republicans” in the Legislature (and many statewide offices for that matter) don’t seem to align very well with their party ideals and platform (it will show in this ranking just as it did the last one), but we’ve been through that before.

To get this disclaimer out of the way up front (and to keep fellow columnist and former Legislator Rod St. Aubyn happy), each Legislator has their reasons for voting a specific way on each bill. This is a big reason why we pick so many bills from each chamber to score — the more you pick the more reliable the trend. That is what, we feel, makes this assessment relatively reliable (although far from perfect– no perfect assessment exists anyways). Despite that, it is always best that you communicate with your elected officials should you have a concern about how they voted on one or several bills. They may give you some insights to help you better understand their reasoning, or at least some really bad excuses which you can log away for future reference when deciding whether or not to re-elect them.

Scoring

Here is a summary for how scoring was compiled. The numbers will not appear to calculate when reviewing the full scorecard at the end of this post; that is simply because if we showed all the math this ranking would begin to resemble something out of a Common Core-aligned curriculum. Here are how points were assigned, however, for each marker bill:

  • 1 point was earned or lost for every floor vote on each marker bill for non-sponsors. Points were gained if the votes were cast in agreement with our desired vote on a bill, and lost for the opposite
  • 5 points were earned or lost if a legislator was the primary sponsor on a bill we thought should pass or fail (respectively)
  • 3 points were earned or lost by co-sponsors similar to the methodology for primary sponsors
  • Sponsors and co-sponsors do not gain or lose the 1 point allocated for the floor vote that non-sponsors gain or lose
  • Co-sponsor points are also counted or lost for bills introduced in the other chamber which they are part of sponsoring
  • 1 point was gained or lost by a sponsor or cosponsor if they ended up voting against a bill they were part of sponsoring (depending on if we thought the bill should pass or fail). Sponsorship points are thus not counted
  • 0 points were awarded if a Legislator was absent for a floor vote on a bill they did not have a part of sponsoring. They still earned or lost their 5 or 3 points for sponsorship even if they were absent for the floor vote
  • Points are awarded or lost regardless of if a bill passes or fails overall. Failure only denies the floor vote points to the other chamber, for obvious reasons, in the second half of the session. Sponsorship points are still earned
  • 90 House bills and resolutions and 50 Senate bills and resolutions were selected as marker bills.  The House bills chosen are listed towards the end of the post, and the Senate bills will be included in the post on the Senate rankings. The bill as (and if) amended at final passage is what judgments for preferred pass or fail are made on; thus it is entirely possible a “Yea” bill in the first half could change to a “Nay” bill when scored in the second half

For example, a House member introduces a “do pass” (from the perspective of SAB war room) bill (+5), co-sponsors a “do not pass” bill (-3) in the House and a “do pass” bill in the Senate (+3), and votes for ten “do pass” bills (+1 each). Total points earned is 15.

We went this direction because we felt those who are part of sponsoring bills should get more credit, or be held more responsible for, the bills they introduce. In using the +/- approach, we also get a better feel for the “bell curve” of the Assembly, and where each member fell, than we did last year when we relied primarily on percentages.

House Results

Top Ten (Corrected)

The top ten Legislators, based on our scoring system, were:

Rank Party District Name Total
1 R 7 Becker, Rick 96
2 R 13 Koppelman, K 74
3 R 3 Streyle 74
4 R 27 Boehning 73
5 R 16 Koppelman, B 71
6 R 5 Louser 66
7 R 36 Fehr 64
8 R 34 Toman 64
9 R 32 Dosch 63
10 R 13 Olson 63

This really comes as no surprise; there are several “young guns” in the top tier, many of whom exhibit the conservative to libertarian leanings of this assessment. Names like Becker and Streyle and Louser were ones we expected to see in the top tier of the House this session. (and this really did not change much with the correction)

Bottom Ten

Rank Party District Name Total
85 D 20 Mooney -36
86 D 12 Haak -37
87 D 44 Boschee -38
88 D 9 Nelson, M -40
89 D 21 Hogan -40
90 D 20 Holman -40
91 D 18 Glassheim -41
92 D 11 Guggisberg -46
93 D 11 Wallman -50
94 D 42 Oversen -63

The bell curve referenced earlier isn’t perfect, but as you can see from comparing the top and bottom scores the start and end points are pretty close. As should come as no surprise, the most left leaning (bordering on socialistic?) of democrats can be found residing here…. plus one lost republican  (The Nelsons’ had their party flip flopped. Thanks to an observant reader for pointing that out. No big changes here either after the correction

One (or a Few) of These Things is Not Like The Other

As we have lamented consistently on SAB, there are a few too many NDGOP Legislators who really would be more at home in the ND Dem-NPL. The bell curve and full ranking below show the total top to bottom listing, but here is in general where those “confused souls” reside. If you are a regular reader of SAB, you probably can guess many of the names yourself before you read them (try it for fun):

With the correction, Hawken almost made it to the bottom ten)

Rank Party District Name Total
69 R 27 Beadle -3
70 R 47 Keiser -4
71 D 9 Boe -4
72 D 6 Hunskor -11
73 D 16 Hanson -19
74 D 43 Delmore -24
75 D 25 Mitskog -25
76 D 24 Muscha -25
77 D 18 Strinden -25
78 D 26 Kelsh -27
79 D 26 Amerman -29
80 D 21 Schneider -30
81 D 41 Anderson, P -32
82 D 42 Mock -32
83 D 4 Onstad -32
84 R 46 Hawken -36

The Bell Curve

The below chart gives you a great fell for where each Legislator falls in comparison to each other, and where the “bell” is in the chamber as a whole (corrections applied):

2015HouseHalf

 

The Full Ranking

The full ranking can be seen below, including some of the factors which drove the final score. Remember, the rows won’t add perfectly to that final tally as there is a bunch of between the lines arithmetic (corrected).

 

2015 Halftime House Ranking full by LegitSlater

House Marker Bills

HB or HCR Topic 1st Half Desired Vote
1003 Higher Education budget – remove auditors and lawyers Y
1051 Higher Education email services and retention requirements Y
1052 Higher Education information technology reports Y
1055 Replacing mills with dollars for tax valuation purposes Y
1057 Notification of property owners on valuation increases Y
1058 Notification of property owners on levy increases Y
1069 Transparency – Online Property Tax Information Y
1080 ND PERS pension reform – increase to rule of 90 from 85 Y
1083 Federalism – Federal requirements on the state Y
1084 Elimination of DUI Checkpoints Y
1085 Federalism – Federal funding reporting requirements Y
1138 Balanced Budget Compact Y
1154 Allowing state employee switch from Defined Contribution to Benefit N
1167 Set a 0% income tax rate; flat tax if elevated Y
1181 Filling US Senate vacancies by popular vote Y
1195 Allowing school board local control over concealed carry in schools Y
1200 Govt Overreach – State-facilitated retirement system N
1218 School District ending fund balances Y
1219 Clarifications of several gun laws Y
1222 Anti-theft mandate on smartphones N
1225 Lower drinking age for military members Y
1236 Restrictions on Bee Hive locations N
1241 Concealed Carry Clarifications Y
1242 Increased speeding fines N
1245 Empowering city councils to override mayorial vetos Y
1250 Publishing board/ commission minutes Y
1254 Tax deductions for education expenses Y
1260 Candidate access to primary election ballots Y
1280 Human Services reorganization study Y
1283 Assurance of opting out of student assessment tests by parents Y
1293 Equal pay certificates N
1295 Medical assistance benefits for family planning services N
1296 Flat Tax Y
1302 Voter registration study Y
1303 Legislature setting tuition of NDUS Y
1328 Limitations on unmanned aircraft surveillance Y
1333 Voting – Voter requirements and ID Y
1342 Annual legislative sessions N
1361 Reviewing boards and commissions for possible elimination Y
1371 Renters income tax credit N
1389 Verification of US citizenship status for voting purposes Y
1394 Relaxing penalties for marijuana possession Y
1402 Open Records- exempt NDUS Applicants N
1408 Additional funding for NDUS for discrimination training N
1410 Head Start Programs Appropriation N
1412 Govt Overreach – Rep election from subdistricts N
1420 Film production tax credit N
1421 Cigarette Tax increase N
1422 Film location promotion N
1425 Lowering age of compulsory school attendence N
1427 Easing restrictions on windshield tinting Y
1428 State agency harrassment policies N
1429 Green energy income tax credits N
1430 Medical marijuana legalization Y
1432 Environmental Impact Litigation fund Y
1433 Student loan repayment grants N
1434 Sunday alcohols sales Y
1435 Penalty for Open Records/ Meetings Violations Y
1438 Minimum wage for tipped employees N
1441 Constitutional Convention Delegates Y
1442 Eliminate bill introduction by executive and judiciary branches Y
1444 Limitations on contract buyouts of contracted state employees Y
1450 Concealed weapons law clarifications Y
1452 Promise Grant Program N
1453 Restrictions on datamining of student information Y
1457 Firearms forfeiture clarifications Y
1461 Dropping out of Common Core Student Assessments Y
1465 Open records laws application to out of state entities Y
1471 1st Amendment rights for students Y
3009 Federalism- Clean Water Act Litigation Y
3013 Remove ND Constitutional restriction on direct payments to individuals N
3014 Article V Convention Y
3015 Balanced Budget Amendment Y
3016 Appointing delegates for a Constitutional Convention Y
3017 Constitutional Convention for a process to countermand federal law Y
3018 Congressional approval of executive branch actions Y
3021 Property Tax replacement study Y
3022 Rejecting federal actions Y
3030 Call for US Constitutional amendment restricting civil rights to people only N
3033 Encourage Congress to propose Regulation Freedom amendment Y
3035 Residency requirements for elected officals Y
3039 Study to determine software needs for placing property tax info online Y
3044 Fiscal Responsibility – College tuition pay it forward model study N
3046 Study on higher education governance models Y
3047 High fiscal impact initiated measures on general election ballot Y
3050 Precluding corporations from civil liberty protections N
3051 Common Core Study Y
3054 Authorizing casinos and casino games Y
3059 Medical Marijuana study Y
3060 Creation of a state ethics commission N

 

 

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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