National Conservative Group Issues Report Card
The leading national conservative organization on economic issues recently issued a report card on how members of the Arkansas General Assembly voted during the 2019 legislative session.
The report card is by the Club for Growth Foundation. Club for Growth is known as the leading free-enterprise advocacy group in the nation. In the past Club for Growth focused only on Congress, urging Congress to vote like free-market, limited government conservatives and holding them accountable by publicizing their voting records.
This is the first year for Club for Growth to issue report cards at the state level and Arkansas was chosen as one of the initial states.
Their scorecard was published long after the 2020 primary elections but after this initial scorecard, expect future reports to come out more quickly. The late timing minimized their scorecard’s impact for the 2020 elections, but it serves as a shot across the bow of those Republican legislators who identify as “red” but who have been voting “blue.”
Club for Growth praised the voting records of some Arkansas legislators. Representative Austin McCullom (R- Bentonville) received the highest rank with a score of 95. Senator Trent Garner (R- El Dorado) was the top-ranking senator with a score of 69.
The report was not all good news. For example, you would think the lowest scoring legislators would all be Democrats, but the lowest score in the House of Representatives was a Republican!
There are similarities between the Club for Growth Foundation 2019 Scorecard and our 2019 Conduit Scorecard, since both groups focus on many of the same issues such as economic freedom, lower taxes, and smaller government.
There are also differences in the two scorecards. Conduit focused on fewer bills which we saw as having the most impact and the scoring methodologies in the scorecards differ. Despite differences in scope and methodology here are some similarities.
- Representative Austin McCullom was ranked as the overall highest in the legislature by Club for Growth and second highest by Conduit.
- Senator Trent Garner was recognized as the top Senator by both Club for Growth and Conduit.
FUTURE SCORING – LEGISLATORS WHO DON’T VOTE WITH A “YES” OR “NO”
Members of the Arkansas legislature have a long practice of killing legislation without casting a “No” vote. How does a legislator do that? The legislator either doesn’t vote on the issue or votes “Present.” Either action serves to prevent legislation from getting enough votes to pass. The tactic is often used as a way to kill a bill while avoiding blame for doing so.
Club for Growth expects a legislator to go on record with either a “Yes” or “No” vote. This year they didn’t count failure to vote or a vote of “Present” against the Arkansas legislator but warned in the future Club for Growth will score a failure to vote or a vote of “Present” as incorrect votes.
Conduit has been scoring a failure to vote or a vote of “Present” as a “No” vote because the practical effect of those actions is the same as “No” vote. While Conduit will continue to hold the legislators accountable for killing good bills by using those techniques, we will be reevaluating our scoring because it has given legislators credit for simply not voting on a bad bill.
We encourage you to take a look at the Club for Growth Foundation 2019 Scorecard and see how your Senator and Representative fared. If you haven’t seen the Conduit 2019 Scorecard we hope you will review it, too.