Rural Republican lawmakers top American Conservative Union’s legislative scorecard

The American Conservative Union Foundation has released a scorecard of the Legislature’s 2019 session, crowning rural Republican Sen. Ira Hansen and rural Republican Assemblyman John Ellison as the most likely to vote with the group’s ideology.

The scorecard released was this week ahead of the organization’s Conservative Political Action Conference spinoff, CPAC West, which is scheduled for Friday in Reno. 

Its overall score for the Assembly — 29 percent — reflects the fact that Democrats have a two-thirds majority in the chamber and advanced legislation that ACU strongly opposes.

“Despite California’s many economic problems, not to mention a record number of families leaving the Golden State, liberal lawmakers of the Nevada State Assembly seem to be replicating California’s failed far-left policies,” ACU Foundation Chairman Matt Schlapp said in a press release.

Behind Hansen, who represents Sparks and a large section of rural Nevada, Boulder City Republican Sen. Joe Hardy was named the second most conservative, with Sens. Pete Goicoechea of Eureka and Scott Hammond of Las Vegas tied for third. Most Democratic senators scored in the single digits, with Democratic Sen. Marcia Washington — who takes socially conservative positions — scoring the highest at 17 percent.

In the Assembly, Mesquite’s Chris Edwards, Carson City’s Al Kramer and Lyon County’s Robin Titus tied for second most conservative. Democrat Skip Daly, who represents a swingy Sparks district, was ranked the most conservative Assembly member from his party.

The lowest-ranking Republicans were Sen. Ben Kieckhefer and Assemblywoman Jill Tolles.

The report card graded lawmakers on whether their votes on 35 different bills aligned with ACU’s position on the measures. Many were obvious — opposing gun background checks, opposing unionization for state employees, opposing an increase in the minimum wage and opposing the extension of a higher payroll tax rate.

But others were less predictable, including: 

• The ACU opposed SB263, a tax on vaping products, because “this bill places tremendous financial burdens on users of e-cigarettes and vaping products such as Juul … ACU believes the usage of e-cigarettes and tobacco products are a personal liberty issue and opposes “sin taxes” which disproportionately harm select portions of the population, especially low-income communities.”

• The group disagreed with SJR8, which codified the Equal Rights Amendment, because “it has nothing to do with treating individuals equally, but instead is a tool introduced by the Left to provide judges carte blanche authority to abuse the legal system, including attacking the private sector and providing “rights” to abortions.”

• The ACU is against SB262, which would require more disclosure of prices of asthma medication, describing it as “interference in the marketplace which forces the disclosure of confidential and competitively sensitive information and, in the end, may discourage research and development of future lifesaving drugs.”

• The organization opposed SB201, which would require a database of payday loans to prevent people from taking out more than they could handle. ACU says it is an “intrusion into the private sector which drives up lending costs and may ultimately be used as a mechanism to advocate for additional price controls which harm borrowers with limited or poor credit and opposed this bill.”

• The ACU is against AB183, which would ban Nevada’s use of private prisons, because it  “prevents the private sector from helping to improve prison efficiency” and “violates our “Seven Principles of Privatization,” opposes the effort which expands government bureaucracy and inefficiency and reduces the flexibility to innovate to reduce recidivism and opposed this bill.”

• The group opposed AJR6, which expresses the Legislature’s opposition to including a question about citizenship on the Census, because it “is a direct attack on the Trump administration’s efforts to increase the accuracy of the US Census to better ensure federal resources are directed to US citizens” and would be “rewarding ‘sanctuary states,’ which harbor those residing in the country illegally, with increased federal funding.”

• The ACU supported SB192, which would make it easier for people to clear decriminalized offenses from their record. The group said it supports policies that “cut crime, reduce the size and scope of government and responsibly reduce incarceration rates.”