By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The 2016 Session of the Alabama Legislature received high marks for fiscal and social conservatism from the American Conservative Union on their conservatism report card this year.
The ACU praised the Alabama House and Senate for enacting more conservative legislation during their session this year. The ACU scores ever House and Senate member based on their votes on a selection of bills picked for their adherence to conservative principles. The House and Senate are then given an overall average scored based on their membership’s votes.
The average score for members of the Senate increased 12 percentage points from an average score of 55 percent out of 100 in 2015 to 67 percent in 2016. The House’s average score increased five percentage points from 48 percent in 2015 to 53 percent in 2016.
The Alabama Legislature, especially the Senate, ranked highly even among other conservative states with the Senate coming in within the top five states. The House ranked within the top 10 among other states with rankings available.
“The 2016 session of the Alabama legislature enacted several conservative reforms Alabamans can be proud of,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. “Bills that protected citizens’ Second Amendment rights and the sanctity of unborn lives show that legislators are addressing the issues of concern to constituents. However, 2016 was not all good news: policies that empower bureaucrats and expand the role of government by regulating massage therapists and cosmetologists are wholly unnecessary.”
The ACU picked 14 pieces of legislation in the Senate to rank senators on this year, including Senate Bill 205 — which prohibits a new or renewed license for an abortion clinic located within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school; and SB 14 — which states that no one can be charged with “disorderly conduct” for lawfully carrying a firearm “in a crowd” that is not concealed and allows anyone 18 or older to carry a firearm on their own property. Both bills passed the Senate.
The ACU also chose 12 bills in the House to rank. All of the bills and each member’s vote on the bills can be found within the ACU’s report here..
The report, to no shock, found that Alabama’s Republicans are more conservative than their Democratic counterparts in both the House and the Senate.
Senate Republicans scored an average of 74 percent, while Democrats scored only 39 percent. Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, scored the lowest among the Republicans with 58 percent. Sen. Billy Beasley, R-Clayton, scored the highest among Democrats with 58 percent as well.
House Republicans took an average scored of 65 percent compared with the Democrats’ 23 percent. Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, scored the lowest among Republicans with a 42 percent score. Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, scored the highest among Democrats with 50 percent.
With this year’s report, several House and Senate Republicans are set to received awards from the ACU for scoring above 80 percent on their report cards. The 80 percent benchmark is based on Pres. Ronald Reagan’s famous statement that “the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is an ally.”
Representatives Harbison, Sells, Wadsworth, Whorton and Wingo will received the award along with Senators Glover, Melson and Whatley.