TAXPAYERS’ ADVISORY BULLETIN (TAB)
2011 Mid-Session Report
The following interim legislative “scorecard” was produced by Montana Conservatives. TAB measures the percentage of the time each legislator supports the conservative position on key legislation. We examine every bill that receives a recorded floor vote, asking the fundamental question: does this legislation increase or decrease the presence of government in our lives?
Votes for larger, more powerful, more intrusive and more expensive government are interpreted as “liberal” or leftist positions. Votes for smaller government, lower taxes, fewer regulations and more individual and economic freedom are interpreted as “conservative” positions. Other traditional conservative positions, including government transparency, competitive free markets, states rights and educational choice are also taken into account.
What makes TAB such a reliable rating system is the fact that it is tied to no particular industry or interest group, and uses bills that span a wide range of issues and public policies, from taxing and spending to education, welfare, business regulation, government reform, subsidies and interventions, property rights and personal liberty. TAB uses a very high number of votes in our ratings, which helps ensure objectivity and accuracy.
On the following pages are listed the individual conservative percentages for all legislators through the transmittal break, separated by house and by party. Rankings are divided into four categories: conservative, conservative-leaning, liberal-leaning and liberal. Newcomers (freshmen with no prior experience) are bolded. Incumbents who registered an improvement of 15% or more from their last session scores are denoted in blue; those whose conservative scores dropped 15% or more are indicated in red.
Every Democratic legislator scored in the liberal range (none over 13%.) Republicans were once again spread across the political spectrum, with more of the GOP residing left-of-center than right-of-center: 22 Conservative, 21 Conservative Leaning, 20 Liberal Leaning and 33 Liberal (largest group.)
Overall House and Senate conservative voting percentages through the break:
House Average — 35%
House Republicans — 49%
House Democrats — 8%
Senate Average — 27%
Senate Republicans — 45%
Senate Democrats — 5%
Compared to the full session TAB ratings for the 2009 legislature, the State Senate has thus far posted an 8 point improvement among Republicans, with Democrats unchanged. House Republicans are unchanged from 2011; Democrats have improved by 7 points.
The bills used in each house for our survey are listed at the end of the report, with Montana Conservatives support or opposition noted. There were 38 House bills indexed and 22 Senate. As in the past, the majority of good index bills that reached the House and Senate floors were government growth measures that we opposed. Most of the strong conservative legislation was still getting killed in committee, despite heavy Republican majorities in this session.