Local lawmakers rated 'effective'

May. 15, 2014 @ 05:07 PM

Rep. Craig Horn and Sen. Fletcher Hartsell are the most effective legislators of the Union County delegation, according to the 2014 effectiveness rankings from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research Inc. 

“The rankings are a mirror of what happens in the legislature and who makes it happen,” Director Ran Coble said in a statement. “Over the years, the key factors in a higher effectiveness ranking are being in the majority party, how long the legislator has served, being chair of a committee and their personal skills in moving legislation.” 

In the 2013-2014 legislative session, Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses of government, along with a Republican governor. 

Rep. Dean Arp, R-69, ranks as the highest freshman in the House. He is ranked 38th; the second-highest ranking freshman is Rep. Jim Fulg-ham, R-Wake, who is 39th. 

Freshmen legislators were new to the General Assembly in 2013. 

Rep. Mark Brody, R-55, was

See Ranks/Page A7

one of 21 representatives who had perfect attendance. 

The center’s effectiveness rankings are based on surveys completed by the legislators themselves, by registered lobbyists based in North Carolina and by capitol news reporters. 

The three groups are asked to rank effectiveness based on participation in committee work, skill at guiding bills through committees and in floor debates and general knowledge and expertise in certain fields, according to a statement from the Center for Public Policy Research. 

The respondents are also asked to consider the respect legislators command from their peers, his or her ethics, the political power they hold (by virtue of their office, longevity or personal skills), their ability to sway the opinions of other legislators and their aptitude for the overall legislative process. This is the 19th time the Center has released this survey. 

Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Republican who represents Union County, was ranked 15th in effectiveness, moving up from 2011, when he ranked 23rd. 

Hartsell, a Republican who represents Cabarrus County and part of Union County, ranked 12th, a drop from 2011 when he ranked seventh. Hartsell was ranked in the top ten from 2003 until 2011. His first ranking, in 1993, was 43rd. 

The most effective state senator was Sen. Phil Berger, a Republican who represents Rockingham County. He was also ranked the most effective senator in 2011. 

This year’s ratings include only 49 of the 50 senators, Sen. Martin Nesbitt died in March and is not included. 

Horn, R-68, was ranked the 20th most effective representative in 2013. In 2011, his first term, he was ranked 66th. 

Arp is ranked 38th and it is his first year being ranked by the survey. 

Brody is ranked 92nd and it is also his first year being ranked by the survey. 

The survey ranks 120 House members.

Thom Tillis was ranked as the most effective member of the House. He was also ranked first in 2011, a jump from 2009 when he ranked 32nd.

In addition to overall effectiveness, the survey reports attendance and roll call voting participation. 

Tucker attended 103 of 106 legislative days and was fully absent for three days. Tucker is ranked in 19th, tied with four other senators. 

Hartsell attended 90 of 106 legislative days. He was fully absent 12 days and partially absent four days. He is ranked 46th out of the 49 senators included. 

Brody was present for all 106 legislative days, with a 100 percent attendance record. He is tied for first with 22 other representatives. 

Horn was present for 101 out of 106 days. He was fully absent four days and partially absent one day. He is ranked 75th and tied with six other representatives. 

Arp was present 100 of 106 days. He was fully absent two days and partially absent four days. He is ranked 81st and tied with six other representatives. 

There were 916 votes in the Senate last year. 

Tucker could have cast 858 votes while present and cast 848 votes. He was absent or excused from 23 votes, giving him a 98.2 percent participation rate. He was ranked 44th, along with three other senators. 

Hartsell was also ranked 44th, with a 98.2 percent participation rate. Hartsell could have cast 777 votes while present and cast 763 votes. He was absent or excused from 139 votes. 

The House voted a total of 1,354 times last year. 

Brody could have participated in all 1,354 votes and cast 1,351 votes. He was not absent or excused from voting in any instances. He had a 99.8 percent participation rate and was ranked 13th, tied with 15 other representatives. 

Horn could have cast 1,292 votes while present, he cast 1,286. He was absent or excused from 62 votes. Horn had a 99.5 percent participation rate and was ranked 43rd, tied with 10 other represenatives. 

Arp could have cast 1,317 votes while present and he cast 1,306 votes. He was absent or excused from 37 votes. Arp had a 99.2 percent participation rate and was ranked 70th, tied with six other representatives. 

The legislators opened the 2014 short session on Wednesday. All five are up for re-election this year, but only Brody is in a contested race.