NHLA Liberty Report Card rates and ridicules state legislators

Liberty Rating report card will help voters keep representatives accountable to limited government principles

MANCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire Independents, or Democrats and Republicans who put principle above their party affiliations, will have access to a pre election-time tool to check how well incumbent politicians have upheld their oath of office to “bear faith and true allegiance to the United States of America and the state of New Hampshire and ... support the constitution thereof.”

With the 2009 New Hampshire Legislative Session now complete, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance (NHLA) has unveiled its sixth annual Liberty Rating report card to help citizens track the voting record of the state's 24 senators and 400 representatives. The rating lists each lawmaker by the community he represents with a party designation and a liberty grade.

“It's an easy to follow voter guide to determine whether your legislator is representing you or whether he is representing special interests at the State House,” said Mark Warden, vice chairman of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. “It's rated just like a school report card, with grades from A+ down to F, and a special rating (CT) for legislators deemed as a constitutional threat to civil liberties in New Hampshire.”

The Liberty Rating report card is the result of hundreds of hours spent by volunteers reading and analyzing bills and compiling data to calculate lawmakers' grades. The alliance selected 44 roll call votes in the House and 11 in the Senate that clearly demonstrate whether a lawmaker supports the state constitution. In this year's legislative session, 23 representatives and zero senators earned an A+ rating, while nine representatives and one senator were deemed a constitutional threat. Another six representatives were derelict in their duty, having missed at least 70 percent of scored votes.

Grades were awarded based on the percentage of votes that were considered “pro-liberty” verses those considered “anti-liberty.” Pro-liberty votes protect individual freedom of choice and personal responsibility, respect the citizens' rights of self-ownership, promote good government and recognize the value of voluntary economic decisions. Anti-liberty votes replace self-governance with government interventionism, give agencies backed by force power over individuals and support central economic planning that requires people to pay for policies they may not willingly support.

Examples of House bills that the alliance supported as pro-liberty included an à la carte health insurance plan (HB109), a bi-annual, rather than annual, auto inspection system (HB259), and a state budget spending cap (HB369). Examples of House bills opposed by the alliance as anti-liberty included a primary-offense seatbelt law (HB383), a bill that allows government to seize rental property for building code violations (HB574), and a bill that would remove the right to a jury trial for cases before the Human Rights Commission (HB686).

“The Liberty Rating annual report card issued by the NHLA serves two goals: First, to educate voters and constituents about the voting record of their individual representatives in order to hold them accountable. Second, it provides a record for other organizations and the legislative members themselves to track their voting records against a limited government, pro-liberty standard,” Warden said.

The NHLA encourages every New Hampshire citizen to use the Liberty Rating report card to learn the facts about how their elected public servants voted and make their decision on whether the representative or senator deserves to be reelected in 2010.

Besides listing the lawmakers by town and grade, the Liberty Rating report card also lists the laws that were used to score each legislator and whether the NHLA considered support for the bill or opposition to it a pro-liberty vote. The Liberty Rating also includes a legislator scoring key and a five-year honor roll, which recognizes 30 lawmakers for their outstanding commitment to liberty during the last five years. The Liberty Rating report card is available now on the NHLA Web site, http://www.nhliberty.org. Report cards dating back to 2005 are also available there.

The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance is a non-partisan coalition working to increase individual freedom in New Hampshire. We do this by monitoring bills in the legislative sessions and encouraging private charity, a civil society and citizen involvement.

The NHLA reviews liberty-sensitive bills in each legislative session. Bills are evaluated based on their effects on civil liberties, personal responsibility, property rights, accountability, constitutionality, affordability, regulation, fiscal impact and taxation. From this evaluation process we publish a weekly handout called The Gold Standard. We distribute it to members of the House of Representatives prior to their vote in order to give them an understanding about whether a given bill is pro-liberty or anti-liberty. The Gold Standard reports then form the foundation for our annual Liberty Rating, a report card by which we score Representatives and Senators.