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North Dakota Legislative Review

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The North Dakota Policy Council, a North Dakota-based nonprofit research organization, published the North Dakota Legislative Review, a comprehensive report on how state legislators voted during the 2011 legislative session. The report analyzed appropriations bills to give residents of the state a look at how their legislators voted on issues important to the Council.[1] The NDPC tracked twenty-four bills during the legislative session, ranging from the nullification of the health care reform law to tax increment financing reform.[2]

2011 report

The 2011 report covered the voting records of state legislators serving in the 62nd session of the state legislature. 24 bills were tracked during the session and scored based on the values of the Council. Comparisons between the scores of members of the State House and State Senate should not necessarily be made, since both houses voted on different bills. While the House voted on 22 policy bills that were tracked, the Senate only voted on 9 policy bills. Legislators may also have voted for the same idea twice. For instance, a spending bill may have been killed in one form and brought back and passed in another form. Those who voted for each bill would be credited with having voted for the same idea twice.

The top-5 members of the state House considered most supportive of the Council's goals in terms of government spending were:

The top-5 members of the state House considered most supportive of the Council's goals in terms of long-term policy were:

The top-5 members of the state Senate considered most supportive of the Council's goals in terms of government spending were:

The top-5 members of the state Senate considered most supportive of the Council's goals in terms of long-term policy were:

2011 North Dakota House scorecard

2011 North Dakota Senate scorecard

Methodology

Legislation

The NDPC tracked twenty-four bills during the legislative session and scored legislators based on whether the bills supported or opposed furthered the goals of the Council. The report sub-divided the content of these bills and whether or not they passed into "good," "bad," and "ugly" categories.[2] The issues included:

The good

  • Income tax cuts: The House passed HB1047, which provided North Dakota taxpayers $145 million in personal and corporate income tax cuts.
  • Obamacare: The Council supports mitigating the effects of Obamacare on North Dakota residents, passing at least two bills doing so: HB1165 makes it illegal to compel North Dakotans to purchase health insurance. SB2309 declares Obamacare to be unconstitutional and protects the rights of North Dakotans to purchase medical services free from government interference.
  • Property rights: The legislature passed SB2204, which requires legislative approval of all money given to the Northern Plains National Heritage Area, a federal program designed to enact local government land use changes via federal grants of money.
  • TIF reform: In response to the Council's lawsuit against the City of Bismarck, the legislature passed SB2050, which reforms tax increment financing laws.

The bad

  • Pension reform: The House rejected two bills that would have reformed the state employees' pension system and teachers' retirement fund from a defined-benefits program to a 401k-style defined-contribution programs in eliminating future burdens on taxpayers.
  • Economic development: The legislature passed a bill appropriating $133 million for corporate welfare subsidies and other politically-motivated "economic development" benefits.

The ugly

  • Budget increase: The 2011-13 budget passed by the legislature totaled more than $4 billion, an increase of 25% over the previous budget.
  • Government transparency: The legislature rejected a measure that would have required local governments to post every local expenditure on a searchable website.

Scoring

The Council broke down proposed policy ideas into "long-term" and "short-term" categories. For each "yea" vote on a long-term policy idea, legislators were given 3 points. For each correct vote on a short-term policy idea, legislators were given 2 points. There were also several bills that touched on issues the NDPC finds important but were not in the policy guide. Each legislator was given 1.5 points for the correct vote on those bills.

A "yea" vote was not always considered the correct vote. Legislators received 1 point for the correct vote on non-binding resolutions. Votes were weighted more heavily towards the long-term policy ideas, indicating support for the long-term vision held by the Council. Earned points were added up and divided by the total possible points to reach a percentage. Missed votes were not counted in either as points earned or as possible points.[2]

See also

External links

References