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Democrats score poorly in conservative group’s legislative rankings

Updated September 10, 2019 - 5:44 pm

CARSON CITY — A national political group grading Nevada lawmakers on their conservative bona fides gave only Republicans passing scores for the 2019 Legislature.

The American Conservative Union Foundation’s latest report card unsurprisingly graded Democrats the lowest and Republicans the highest, but not every Republican received rave reviews from the group in its review of the 2019 Nevada Legislature that was released Tuesday. And overall, the group’s grades for Nevada lawmakers in both parties dropped significantly from their last time it graded the state in 2017.

The American Conservative Union scored lawmakers on 35 bills in both chambers that it said focused fiscal conservatism, social conservatism and government integrity. Those included bills that implemented the state’s stalled background check initiative, granted tenants more rights, raised minimum wage, abolished the use of private prisons in the state and more.

When the group graded Nevada lawmakers following the 2017 session, all nine of the GOP Senate caucus exceeded that 80 percent threshold, with an average score in the caucus of 86 percent.

But this time around, eight Republicans in the Senate received an average score of 62 percent, meaning they voted in line with the ACU’s position just under two-thirds of the time, and none eclipsed the 80 percent mark. Sen. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, received the highest grade at 77 percent.

Republicans on the Assembly side received higher scores based on their votes, with seven of the 13 caucus members eclipsing 80 percent, which ACU denotes as the “Award for Conservative Achievement.”

And while no Republican received a grade of less than 50 percent, some, including the lowest-scoring Republicans in Reno — Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (51 percent) and Reno Assemblywoman Jill Tolles (53 percent) — came dangerously close.

Unsurprisingly, the conservative group did not hand out favorable grades to any of the Legislative Democrats, which held a supermajority in the Assembly and was one vote shy of a supermajority in the Senate.

The 13 Senate Democrats received a combined score of 7 percent, and their 29 counterparts in the Assembly received a score of 9 percent.

Sen. Marcia Washington, D-North Las Vegas, who replaced former Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson after he resigned and pleaded guilty to using $250,000 in campaign money for personal use, and Assemblyman Skip Daly, D-Sparks, notched the group’s highest grade among Democrats, with each voting in line with ACU’s position 17 percent of the time.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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