The Business and Industry Political Education Committee (BIPEC) has been working in Mississippi on behalf of business legislation for over three decades. Their Executive Director, Van White, may be one of the quietly influential guys in the Capitol dome. The group has worked on key business issues such as tort reform, workers comp reform and now charter schools. The common thread is what is good for business and creating the environment in the private sector that creates jobs.
Probably, they’re most publicly known for the scorecard, which is released early in each legislative session showing how legislators did the prior year.
A few things on this year’s scorecard stand out.
The Senate is more conservative than the House as a body. 30 Senators of 52 scored an “A”. 5 more scored a “B”. That’s 70% of the 50 members with an “A” or “B”. 62 House members received an “A” and 3 more got a “B”. Contrast that with the 27 House members that got an “F”. That breakdown is not a comment on leadership in the House or Senate. There are just a lot of anti-business House members that weigh down the body’s average. In the Senate, there’s only 1 “F” (Sen. Debbie Dawkins), and there are lots of outspoken Democrat legislators that have a much more measured voting record on business items. The take away is that House districts can be more liberal because the larger the district in Mississippi, the more conservative it gets.
A few individual grades I found noteworthy were:
Notably party switchers Rep. Donnie Bell, Rep. Jason White and Sen. Gray Tollison (all now Republicans) had “A” grades.
Rep. George Flaggs got a “C”, which was one of the higher grades for Democrats in the House. Flaggs continues to show his pragmatic side on a range of issues. However, his grade was not as high as Rep. Bennett Malone. Malone was entrenched in Billy McCoy’s camp and was one of the deciding turncoat votes to keep McCoy as Speaker in 2008. He had a “B”. All I can attribute that to is that Bennett Malone is first and foremost in Bennett Malone’s camp. He is a political survivor extraordinaire.
Rep. Mark Baker had a “C”. Baker as a major committee chairman has a lot of influence in the House and is someone who is rumored to have interest in higher office in 2015. He is very senior in the Republican leadership and his BIPEC score likely tracks back to his vote on Workers’ Comp and is noteworthy to say the least.
The BIPEC scorecard is always worth spending a few minutes with to see how key legislators fared. While it’s always useful to review, waiting after a full session makes the data a little less “real time”. Hopefully the technology and voting criteria may allow for some real time scoring of legislators in the future so BIPEC can have more of an impact on public perception as key votes are happening.