Civitas Action has been producing its annual legislative ranking since the 2008 legislative session.
Civitas Action’s legislative ranking website is updated and is now ready for the 2017 legislative session. Nearly 30 new legislators elected in the November General Election have been added to the 2017 Civitas Action list along with their contact information. The newest changes come just a year after the Civitas Action website was updated to offer a more user-friendly experience and to track legislators’ votes as soon as possible after they occurred.
The Civitas Action ranking analyzes each member’s vote on important legislation to better decipher the member’s ideological stance on the issues. In the past, votes selected by Civitas to be scored included key legislation such as the state budget, tax reform, setting up a state Obamacare exchange/Medicaid expansion, election reform, unemployment insurance reform and criminal justice issues.
In an effort to continue to improve the Civitas Action experience, we have added a new page that allows users to see how legislators voted on a selected bill as a group.
As is always the case, incumbents held the clear advantage in the 2016 November election: In the 120-member state House, 97 incumbents won re-election. To look at it another way, only six incumbent legislators on the November ballot lost.
After millions of dollars, barrels of editorial ink and countless internet and television news stories blasting Republicans, the 2017 partisan makeup of the NC general assembly is more Republican than it was at the start of 2015.
The NC House has exactly the same partisan breakdown 74 Republicans vs 46 Democrats. The NC Senate has one more Republican with the partisan breakdown at 34 GOP members vs 15 Democrats.
- Eleven Republican candidates won open seats in House districts (HD) left open by Republican legislators retiring or otherwise moving on:
- HD 20 – Holly Grange (R- New Hanover)
- HD 26 – Donna McDowell White (R-Johnston)
- HD 28 – Larry Strickland (R-Johnston)
- HD 37 – Linda Hunt Williams (Wake)
- HD 81 – Larry Potts (Davidson)
- HD 87 – Destin Hall (Caldwell)
- HD 103 – Andy Dulin (Mecklenburg)
- HD 105 – Scott Stone (Mecklenburg)
- HD 112 – David Rogers (Burke, Rutherford)
- HD 113 – Cody Henson (Henderson, Polk, Transylvania)
- HD 120 – Kevin Corbin (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon)
- Four Democrats won open seats left by Democrats. One of the open seats (HD 30) had been held by Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Durham), a veteran legislator who passed away a week before Election Day. His name appeared on the ballot and it garnered 73.9 percent of the vote; his challenger, Republican Elissa Fuchs, received 26.2 percent. The Democrat Party has chosen Philip Lehman to serve out Luebke’s term. The other Democrats winning their party’s open seats were:
- HD 32 –Terry Garrison (Granville, Vance, Warren)
- HD 58 –Amos Quick (Guilford)
- HD 100 – John Autry (Mecklenburg)
- Three Democrats beat Republican incumbents compared to two Republicans beating Democrat incumbents:
- HD 40 – Democrat Joe John (Wake) beat incumbent Republican Marilyn Avila by 384 votes
- HD 49 – Democrat Cynthia Ball (Wake) won by an 820-vote margin, beating incumbent Gary Pendleton
- HD 88 – Democrat Mary Belk (Mecklenburg) beat incumbent Rob Bryan by a 468-vote margin
- HD 51 – Republican John Sauls (Harnett, Lee) beat incumbent Brad Salmon by 3,642 votes
- HD 119 – Republican Mike Clampitt (Haywood, Jackson, Swain) beat incumbent Joe Sam Queen by 277 votes
- One Republican won a seat left open by a Democrat, one Democrat won a seat left by a Republican not seeking reelection and one Republican won a seat left open by an unaffiliated member:
- HD 46 – Republican Brenden Jones (Bladen, Columbus, Robeson) won (7,771 votes) the seat left open by Democrat Ken Waddell
- HD 92 – Democrat Chaz Beasley (Mecklenburg) won (3,695 votes) the seat left open by Republican Charles Jeter
- HD 6 – Republican Beverly Boswell (R-Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Washington) won (1,551 votes) the seat left open by Paul Tine, the only unaffiliated member of the House, who was first elected in 2012 as a Democrat
On the Senate side 44 incumbents won reelection and Senate Republicans had a net gain of one seat:
- One Republican beat an incumbent Democrat:
- SD 13 – Republican Danny Earl Britt (Columbus, Robeson) beat Democrat incumbent Jane Smith by 6,186 votes (55 percent of the total vote).
- Four Republicans won open seats vacated by Republicans and one Democrat won an open seat that had been held by a Democrat:
- SD 11 – Republican Rick Horner (Johnston, Nash, Wilson) won the open seat left by Buck Newton
- SD 33 – Republican Cathy Dunn (Davidson, Montgomery) won the seat left open by Stan Bingham
- SD 36 – Republican Paul Newton (Cabarrus, Union) filled the seat left open by Fletcher Hartsell
- SD 48 – Republican Chuck Edwards (Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania) was elected to fill the vacancy left open by Tom Apodaca
- SD 16 – Democrat Jay Chaudhuri (Wake) won the seat left open by Josh Stein
After the election, new Gov. Roy Cooper selected two sitting legislators to serve in his cabinet, resulting in two open seats in the state House. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) was picked as the new Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources and Larry Hall (D-Durham) was selected to head the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Democrats have named Deb Butler, an attorney and gay rights activist, to fill the position left open by Hamilton. In Durham County, Democrats named MaryAnn Black, vice president of community affairs for Duke Health and a former Durham County Commissioner, to fill Hall’s seat.
Thus far in the 2017 session, only the House has voted on legislation that has been scored by Civitas Action.
House Bill 3, Eminent Domain, would amend the state constitution to re-define the authorized use of eminent domain to “public use,” from the current “public use or benefit.” It would also require “just compensation” be paid to the landowner, with the compensation to be determined by a jury upon request.
Civitas believes in the protection of property rights and in limiting the means by which government infringes upon those rights. Click here to see how state House members voted on House Bill 3.
House Bill 7, LRC/Strengthen Savings Reserve, would require a minimum of 15 percent of annual projected state revenue increases be set aside into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. This, along with other measures restricting the ease with which funds from the account can be appropriated, will better grow and preserve the savings reserved for difficult fiscal times.
In the Great Recession beginning in 2008, a woefully underfunded savings reserve contributed to a severe fiscal crisis as revenue crashed along with the economy. The crash was followed by tax increases and government cuts exacerbating the already bad economy in North Carolina. A robust, and well-guarded, savings reserve will be a key component to ensure North Carolina is well prepared for the next, inevitable fiscal downturn.
Civitas would like to see these, or similar, fiscal provisions added to the North Carolina constitution in the near future to better protect our state.
Civitas Action supports financially prudent moves such as this that will prevent fiscal crises in the future, helping to avoid bad policies such as “temporary” tax hikes to cover revenue shortfalls. Click here to see how state House members voted on House Bill 7.
Civitas Action fully intends to grade any Senate votes taken on House Bill 3 and House Bill 7 in its 2017 Civitas Action Conservative Effectiveness Ranking, and the grades will be updated to the website within one or two business days following the vote.
The rankings can be found at www.civitasaction.org.
Civitas Action has been producing its annual legislative rankings since the 2008. The Civitas Action Conservative Effectiveness Ranking is the only rating system in North Carolina that allows the citizens of North Carolina to gauge how their state legislator actually votes on important bills, and offers a score to better determine the member’s overall ideological stance on the pivotal issues.