by Max Brantley
Roby Brock begins a project today to rate Arkansas legislators based on the success rate of the legislation they introduced. He also takes note of how prolific legislators are in filing legislation.
He'll be back with the House tomorrow.
It's an objective measure. But lawmaking isn't a strictly objective enterprise. The number doesn't evaluate the quality of the legislation passed or measure a senator's influence with other lawmakers. It doesn't quanitfy defense. Some legislators serve by defeating bad bills, whether through strong argument, parliamentary trickery, committee influence, coalition building or strong-arm tactics. Rep. Linda Tyler stands out on the defense this year as chairman of the House Public Health committee.
For example: Senate President Pro Tem Paul Bookout led Roby's list today with a 90 percent success rate. He's not viewed as a particularly influential legislator. He passed 10 of 11 bills. Two were for consensus companion measures to modestly tighten expense reimbursement procedures for legislators attending conferences. The rest were appropriation bills, most for his hometown ASU. It's a record without legacy.
I don't mean to say the numbers aren't interesting, they are. But they are just a starting place. The best measure for most voters is the roll call on key votes. When the chips were down, did your representative or senator stand up against corporate welfare, for progressive taxation, for public schools, for a woman's right to choose, for universal health care, for a cleaner environment? Identify legislators with 80 to 90 percent records on this agenda and you've identified solid lawmakers.