There are a few surprises in the Americans For Prosperity Mississippi legislative report card.
First of all, though the Economic Freedom Scorecard was developed by a conservative outfit, not all Republicans are equal. Neither are the Democrats. At least a couple of Democrats.
Russ Latino, the executive director, says that is because AFP focused on policy, not party.
He said they also looked at a broader range of legislation, unlike some report cards that focus on a single issue such as education.
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"I think there is some distinction between what we look at as free market type legislation versus what some people would classify as pro-business legislation," he said. "With our view being that unbridled competition and consumer choice are good and sometimes things that are labeled as pro-business are really protectionist where you're having an existing business being protected against competition."
The scorecard does give more weight to three issues: tax relief, charters schools and the gas tax, with AFP scoring those higher for votes for tax relief and charter schools and against raising the fuel tax.
It didn't score lawmakers on perhaps the most controversial bill, HB1523, which a federal judge found discriminates against lesbian, gay, transgender and unmarried people as he issue an injunction that prevented it from taking effect.
Perfection was hard to come by. Only Joel Bomgar, R-Madison, and Dana Criswell, R-Olive Branch, scored 100s. Criswell strayed from the AFP fold only when he voted for the incentive packages for Continental Tire in Clinton and Topship in Gulfport.
"As a matter of principle, AFP Mississippi does not believe that tax proceeds from working families should be redistributed to multibillion-dollar corporations," the scorecard says. "Practically speaking, the State has had a poor track record with investments in other private entities."
Bomgar differed with AFP on Senate Bill 2808, which AFP supported and which reduced unemployment insurance taxes paid by employers.
Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, scored the best among senators with a 95.
Greg Haney, R-Gulfport, Steven Massengill, R-Hickory Flatt, and Jody Steverson, R-Ripley, finds themselves in strange company. They were the only Republicans in the House who received an F, a grade given to the vast majority of House Democrats.
No Democrats scored above C, a grade received by Angela Cockerham, Linda Coleman (who left the House to become a circuit judge) and Deborah Butler Dixon.
On the Senate side, Juan Barnett of Heidelberg and Sampson Jackson II of Preston, received the highest grades among Democrats with B’s. Two Republicans, Walter Michel of Madison County, who was elected in mid-session, and Nickey Browning of Pontotoc received C’s.