PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has published a “snapshot” of its 2013 General Assembly Freedom Index, a scorecard that grades Rhode Island’s lawmakers on their “level of support of principles of freedom,” according to the center.
The preliminary index, released Wednesday, rated the R.I. General Assembly with a score of -54.7 based on 55 tracked bills voted on by the legislature through May 22.
According to the conservative think tank, a negative rating indicates an “overall voting history on bills that tends to infringe upon the liberties of residents,” where as a positive rating indicates a “tendency to preserve freedoms.”
On the center’s index, the House of Representatives scored -68, with House Democrats at -70.9 and House Republicans at -34.4.
The Senate scored -51.8 overall, with Democrats earning a score of -43.1, Republicans 35.8, and the independent -30.9.
“Once again, our own elected officials, collectively, are working against our well-being,” Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the center, said in prepared remarks. “All taxpayers are encouraged to look up how their individual representative or senator is faring, and to let them know whether they approve or disapprove of their performance. Holding legislators accountable for their actions is an essential component of democracy.”
To calculate scores, the center selected 55 legislative bills that were deemed to have an effect on free-market, small-government or constitutional principles. Each bill was assigned a positive or negative weighting of +/- 3, depending on perceived importance. Weighted points were given to each legislator based on his or her roll-call vote.
Bills were divided into five categories: tax and budget, regulatory environment, constitutional government, public sector labor and education reform. According to the center, perfect scores for the preliminary 2013 legislative season are 27 for the House and 55 for the Senate.
According to the center, the lesson to learn from its index is: “The more government tries to do … the more it appears to harm freedom and prosperity.”