Phoenix -- Mark Twain once quipped, No mans life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. That certainly held true in Arizona this year. The 2007 legislative session was the worst for freedom in five years, according to the Goldwater Institutes fifth annual Legislative Report Card released today.
Scores for the Forty-eighth Arizona Legislatures first session reveal a trend toward more government involvement in education, business, and individual finances. The average grade in both the House of Representatives and Senate this year is a D.
The Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card scores Arizona legislators on more than 300 votes across four categories: education, constitutional government, regulation, and tax and budget. Those scores are tabulated into percentage scores and letter grades that indicate how well each legislator adheres to the principles of limited government enshrined in the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions. The Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card is the most comprehensive report card of legislative activity issued in the state.
The reports broad scope shines light into what are often dark recesses of a complex legislative process, said Andrea Woodmansee, Goldwater Institute Director of Publications and author of the report. The sheer amount of legislation--more than 1,500 bills, memorials, and resolutions--introduced this session makes it difficult for citizens to know whether their elected representatives are serving the interests of liberty. This report attempts to objectively quantify legislative action in that regard.
Both chambers scored highest in the constitutional government category; which includes bills like SB 1359 that protects property owners from city liens when tenants fail to pay city utilities. The Senate scored worst overall in education, and the House scored worst in the tax and budget category.
From 2003 to 2005, average scores rose nine points in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Since 2005, however, the average House score has fallen 12 points and the average Senate score has fallen 14 points.
The highest-scoring senator this session was Ron Gould (R-3) and the highest-scoring representative was Judy Burges (R-4).
Scores for each member of the legislature are detailed in the Legislative Report Card and are available online by entering your Zip Code, selecting your district, or typing in your representative's name. The Legislative Report Card is available online or by calling (602) 462-5000.
The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.