The American Conservative Union released its yearly rankings of the Idaho Legislature Tuesday, and the group says the average Republican’s voting score was less conservative this year than in 2015.
This is the second year the ACU, a national group best known for hosting the Conservative Political Action Conference every year, has rated Idaho’s lawmakers. Based on the bills the group ranked, it says the average GOP lawmaker’s score fell from 80.5 in 2015 to 71.5 in 2016.
“In 2016, the Idaho legislature passed both good and bad regulatory legislation,” ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a statement. “Bills to streamline oil and gas permits will be a job-creator and removing the state from the approval process for charter school teacher’s advances school choice. Unfortunately, Idaho has also followed some other states in over-regulating occupations, in this case classifying barber schools as colleges and requiring barring those without two years of high school.
A new crime was also created: selling e-cigarettes without a license.”
The group scored 15 Senate and 16 House bills, with the topics ranging from getting rid of the requirement for a concealed carry permit within city limits to a ban on local minimum wage hikes to prohibition of powdered alcohol; the full rankings and a list of all the bills are available online here.
Newcomer to the Senate Kelly Anthon, R-Rupert, scored highest (i.e., most conservative in the ACU’s eyes) among the Magic Valley’s senators, at 75, followed by Jim Patrick, R-Filer, at 73. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, and Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, each got 60, and Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, got 20.
As for the local House delegation, Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, came in first at 79, followed by Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, at 75; Steve Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, and Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, tied at 69; Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, at 60; Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, at 56; Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, at 53; Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, at 50; and Fred Wood, R-Burley, at 31, the lowest score for a Republican and two points lower than Dan Rudolph, D-Lewiston, the highest-ranking House Democrat on the ACU’s scale.
Donna Pence, D-Gooding, the only Democrat in the local House delegation, got 6, earning her a spot in the ACU’s “Coalition of the Radical Left” along with five more of her Democratic House colleagues. Five senators and four House members scored 90 or more on the ACU’s scale, and three senators and 11 House members scored from 80 to 89 (none in either bunch from the Magic Valley), earning them the group’s “Award for Conservative Excellence” and “Award for Conservative Achievement,” respectively.
The ACU’s 2015 rankings came up a bit during the primaries this year — a couple of lawmakers facing primary challenges from the right, including Hartgen and Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, touted them, since they rated them as being more conservative than the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s yearly ranking of Idaho lawmakers, during their primary campaigns.