Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Top dogs in NC Legislature? Tillis and Berger

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research released this week its biennial rankings - the 19th - of the effectiveness of N.C. lawmakers. It's no surprise that Republicans, who control the House, Senate and the executive branch, were top dogs in getting legislation passed and holding sway over the political process and their fellow lawmakers.

Who came in first in the House and Senate in effectiveness were pretty predictable. Outgoing House Speaker Thom Tillis of our own great "state" of Mecklenburg and Senate leader Phil Berger of Rockingham. They retain their top dog positions from two years ago.

To understand how a party's strength in numbers can boost strength in effectiveness, you only have to look at where Tillis stood in 2009 and 2007 - he ranked 32nd and 95th. Of course, 2007 was his first legislative term. Berger, whose been in office longer, was 11th and 14th in effectiveness in the Senate during those years.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg had other Republicans among the elite in this effectiveness ranking. Bob Rucho and Ruth Samuelson held the No. 5 spot in the Senate and House respectively. And one Mecklenburg Democrat, newly appointed Mayor Dan Clodfelter, managed to rank 22nd in effectiveness in the Senate, despite not being in the majority party. In 2009 and 2007 when the Democrats ran the pack, he was 5th and 4th respectively in effectiveness.

Effectiveness in these rankings is judged by legislators themselves, registered lobbyists based in North Carolina and who regularly work in the General Assembly and by capital news reporters. Lawmakers' political skills are assessed as well as their knowledge and expertise in specific fields and their committee work, ethics and personal skills.

How did those lawmakers do on carrying out their duties and voting on bills? Ten senators had 100 percent participation on casting votes when they could (not absent or excused). Among them was the powerful appropriations leader Tom Apodoca, R-Henderson. In the House, only two had 100 percent participation - Republican Nelson Dollar of Wake and DemocratW.A. Wilkie of Person. Among the 10 tied for 3rd were Mecklenburgers Democrat Becky Carney and Republican Jacqueline Schaffer.

Those are all interesting viewpoints but I was curious about something else the Center rated - attendance. So who showed up regularly? Six people (two Democrats and four Republicans) were tied for 100 percent attendance in the Senate including our own Mecklenburg GOP Sen. Jeff Tarte, who by the way, was pretty good on effectiveness too. He came in 24th on that, making him the most effective freshman lawmaker. At the bottom of the attendance list at 81.1 percent (absent 16 full days and 4 partial days out of 106) was S.Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe.

Twenty-one House members aced attendance, three of them Democrats. GOP Sen. Jacqueline M. Schaffer was the only Mecklenburger who got the 100 percent ribbon. Coming in last was Republican David R. Lewis of Harnett County with 77.4 percent attendance. He missed 7 full days and 17 partial days. Next to last was our own Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg at 78.3 percent. She missed 18 full days and 5 partial days. Of course, she was pregnant for a good bit of the legislative session so she has a good excuse.

How did those top dogs in effectiveness do? Very well. Tillis missed only 1 partial day for a 99.1 percent attendance record. Berger missed four full days and two partial days for a 94.3 percent record.

Turns out most of the lawmakers are diligent about being present at the legislature with all but 18 of the 120 House members present 90 or more percent of the time. All but six of the 49 senators had that record. As Ran Coble, executive director of the nonpartisan center notes, "For part-time legislators - many with other jobs back home and often long drives to Raleigh - this attendance record is a significant accomplishment."

- Fannie Flono


Anonymous said...

>> Twenty-one House members aced attendance, three of them Democrats.

Re: Elevating Spin to Fine Art
Were there any indies? tea party'ers? were the other 18 all repubs?

cltbornandbred said...

don't expect fannie to actually do any real research

Garth Vader said...

Tillis has a ZERO percent attendance rate at candidate forums.