Most legislators ranked just about as expected based on their past behavior. But there is at least one notable exception, that being Raj Goyle, a Wichita Democrat who is seeking that party’s nomination for the United States Congress. His rating for this year is 67%. No House Democrat scored higher than that, and 30 House Republicans scored lower.
Goyle’s votes this year are out of character with his past voting behavior, and must be attributed to preparing to run for Congress against a likely fiscally conservative Republican nominee.
I’ve received criticism from one lobbyist concerning the way I prepared this index. The specific criticism related to using votes taken in “committee of the whole” action rather than at the time of final action. The lobbyist said that if a person voted for (or against) a bill in final action, that is the only vote that should be used in an index like what I’ve created.
The problem is that sometimes close votes in the committee of the whole turn into near unanimous votes in final action. The committee of the whole vote, therefore, provides discriminating power that the final action vote does not.
Further, every recorded vote (not all committee of the whole votes are recorded) are public record, and legislators know that their vote is recorded in the journal of the House or the Senate for anyone to see.
When I decided to prepare the Kansas Economic Freedom Index I knew, and was advised by several people with knowledge of how legislatures work, that I needed to use preliminary votes or final action votes as needed in order to distinguish legislative positions. After receiving this criticism, I talked to these people and others — members of the legislature, legislative staff members, lobbyists, and others — and confirmed that my actions are correct.
I’ve also received criticism for some of the bills that I’ve included. For example, I included H. Sub. for Sub. SB 514, better known as the Community Defense Act. This bill includes detailed regulation of the conduct that may take place inside sexually oriented businesses. It also includes limitations on where these businesses may be located, specifically not within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, state-licensed day care facility, libraries, parks, and residences. These types of restrictions on conduct between consenting adults, as well as the centralized planning that the zoning restrictions implement, are contrary to both personal and economic freedom.