At first glance it isn’t clear if the Florida Chamber merely grades on a curve, or if Florida’s lawmakers are impressively aligned on a pro-jobs agenda: in its 2013 Legislative Report Card, nearly six out of ten lawmakers scored an “A”. But at closer look, the Chamber’s grading methodology is impressively thorough, reliable and clear; a refreshing change from political scorecards issued by various other groups which toss out grades like beads at Mardi Gras.
Each year the Chamber releases a report card to honor and recognize lawmakers for their support of priority jobs issues and efforts to make Florida more competitive, in the free-market sense.
“Business leaders and voters deserve to know their legislators are voting in support of private sector jobs and a stronger economy,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber. “The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card gives job creators and voters the information they need to make informed decision on who they will support in the future.”
Much like student averages in the classroom, lawmaker grades may in part depend on having a strong leader at the head of the room. This year, both Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford earned 100 percent marks from the Chamber — clearing the way through their priorities for others to do the same. In sum, 20 Senators and 73 Representatives earned As, 40 of whom joined Gaetz and Weatherford with perfect Chamber scores.
Although the lawmaker average grade was a respectable 83 percent, some legislators did not meet the Chamber’s passing criteria. For example, in the House, Rep. Elaine Schwartz rang in at 34 percent and Rep. Mark Pafford at 36 percent. Likewise in the Senate, Dwight Bullard eeked out a 42.
If a lawmaker failed to meet the Chamber’s mark, it was not for a lack of information.
Armed with 30 lobbyists, local chapter representatives, and a robust Board of Directors, the Chamber provided what could easily be considered the most thorough “study guide” in its “Where We Stand” Business Agenda. Further, lawmakers were notified prior to each vote that could impact their score that their vote would be counted toward it. In total, more than 8,000 votes on Chamber priority bills were tabulated toward this end.
The Chamber will use the 2013 Report Card, along with candidate interviews, to determine which races to focus on or support in the upcoming 2014 cycle.