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Alabama Policy Institute releases scorecards for members of the Alabama Legislature

API opposed medical marijuana and gaming and supported efforts to limit the governor’s powers, so senators with different views received low scores.

A view of the Alabama Statehouse on South Union Street in Montgomery, Alabama. (STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Policy Institute released the results of its first legislative scorecard, the API Watchlist. Initially revealed in February, the scorecard grades legislators on pre-announced criteria including key votes, attendance, public accessibility and consideration of local bills which raise taxes.

“API is proud to release lawmakers’ scores for the 2021 Regular Session,” said API Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel former State Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City. “I heard it said recently that the Republican majority has moved to a more transactional view than a philosophical view – meaning that they don’t always vote on conservative principles anymore. It is important that constituents have a benchmark by which to gauge their legislators and there is no more accurate means of doing so than the API Watchlist.”

The Alabama Policy Institute scorecard graded legislators on how API thought that they should have voted on a number of key issues. Even though Republicans have a commanding supermajority of the Alabama House of Representatives, less than half of the members of the Alabama House of Representatives earned a passing score. In the Senate, barely half earned a passing score from the conservative think tank.

“States with conservative bona fides only half as strong as ours are surpassing Alabama every day in making the conservative vision a reality for their residents,” said API President and CEO Caleb Crosby. “States like West Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, and South Dakota are expanding school choice, reducing taxes, and putting power back into the hands of the people. Outside of social issues, the Alabama legislature has failed to see major conservative reforms over the finish line recently,”

“This session, establishing gambling, legalizing medical marijuana, and growing government were the clear priorities of our legislature,” Crosby said. “Meanwhile, important bills to rebalance the balance of power, keep government in check, expand school choice, and give tax breaks were, at best, ignored, and at worst, flat-out opposed by so-called “conservatives.” After this session, one thing is for sure: the Alabama legislature is not as conservative as we thought.”

“The Alabama Policy Institute has invested its 30-year history in the creation of this scorecard,” Williams said. “The API Watchlist is Alabama’s premier ranking of a legislator’s standing in regard to conservative principles.”

According to API, the four most conservative state senators, who received a 100 percent ranking were Republicans Tom Butler, Sam Givhan, Arthur Orr and Clay Scofield. Right behind them were GOP Sens. Larry Stutts with a 98, Dan Roberts with a 95 and Shay Shelnutt also with a 95 score. Sens. Gerald Allen and Clyde Chambliss followed with an 85 score. President Pro Tem Greg Reed rounded out the top ten with an 81. Democrats dominated the lowest scoring senators, but Republicans Jack Williams and Tim Melson also were ranked near the bottom.

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API opposed medical marijuana and gaming legislation and supported efforts to limit the governor’s powers during a pandemic, so senators with different views on those pieces of legislation received low scores in the API ratings.

In the Alabama House of Representatives, Republican Reps. Andrew Sorrell, Wes Allen, Tracy Estes, Jamey Kiel, Shane Stringer, Scott Stadthagen, Rex Reynolds, Ginny Shaver, Joe Lovvorn and Matt Simpson all had perfect voting records, according to API. Eleven Democrats were cited for having the worst voting records by API’s standards, scoring a 46 or less. The worst two were Reps. Juandalynn Givan with a 24 and Mary Moore with a 12.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, scored an 82.5, while House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, scored a 47.5. A number of Republicans received low scores from API. These include Will Dismukes with a 53.8 and Steve McMillan with a 47.5.

The 2022 major party primaries will be May 24, 2022.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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