The annual Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card scores Arizona lawmakers on their support of principles of limited constitutional government. Each piece of legislation is assessed in one of four categories for whether it expands liberty consistent with the Arizona Constitution, or restricts liberty. ...
The annual Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card scores Arizona lawmakers on their support of principles
of limited constitutional government. Each piece of legislation is assessed in one of four categories for whether it
expands liberty consistent with the Arizona Constitution, or restricts liberty.
This report card assesses 517 votes. Average scores were 56 percent in the House and 59 percent in the Senate,
indicating that slightly more votes upheld liberty than undermined it. These scores are respectively 23 percent and
20 percent higher than the scores first reported in 2003. The increase reflects a long-term trend of improvement
in voting patterns. Education scores, in particular, were sharply higher in both major parties this year. The highest
overall score was Sen. Steve Smith’s 76 percent. Rep. Eddie Farnsworth received the highest score in the House, which
was 73 percent. These high scorers received overall grades of A-. As in 2011, not a single legislator in this year’s report
received an overall score of A or higher.
Beyond the individual legislator grades, this report card includes an assessment of each bill’s impact on the status
quo with “high impact,” “moderate impact,” and “incremental impact” categories. It reveals a significant narrowing of
the difference in voting patterns between the major political parties with respect to high-impact bills as compared to
prior years. This year the difference between the parties with regard to high impact bills was only 37 points; in 2011,
by contrast, the difference was a dramatic 71 points. No such dramatic narrowing of scores occurred with regard to
moderate or incremental impact bills.
The 2012 Legislative Report Card also compares traditionally funded and publicly funded candidates. As with all
previous years, the source of campaign funding appears to have no significant impact on voting behavior.
The report card is not an absolute measure of a legislator’s merit and does not constitute any endorsement. It is meant
to be a tool for general research and for accountability, helping voters assess the work of their elected representatives.
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is Director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Dranias led the Goldwater Institute’s successful challenge to Arizona’s system of government campaign financing to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even before the case was accepted for review, Dranias was able to persuade the Court to intervene in lower court proceedings and block campaign subsidies from being paid to government-funded candidates during the 2010 election cycle. In addition to practicing constitutional law as a member of the Goldwater Institute’s litigation team, Dranias serves as a constitutional scholar. He has authored numerous scholarly articles dealing with a wide spectrum of issues in constitutional and regulatory policy, including the protection of free speech, the principle of state sovereignty, the reformation of excessive regulation, and the guarantee of individual liberty. His articles have been published by leading law reviews, bar journals and think tanks across the country. Dranias’ latest work is Save the Taxpayers Tens of Billions of Dollars: End Government-Sector Collective Bargaining.
Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Dranias was an attorney with the Institute for Justice for three years and an attorney in private practice in Chicago for eight years. In law school, Dranias served on the Loyola University Chicago Law Review, competed on Loyola’s National Labor Law Moot Court Team, and received various academic awards. He graduated cum laude from Boston University with a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy.