Editor’s Note: In yesterday’s article regarding the Americans for Prosperity Scorecard, the actual scorecard contained a transposing error which led some of the numbers in their table to be off. The final tallies were still all correct and the article was as well. The errors have now been fixed if you want to reference their scorecard.
The conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has released their annual legislative scorecard following this year’s session of the General Assembly. Funded by a couple brothers from Kansas, the Kochs, is one of the country’s largest and most influential conservative organizations. The Georgia chapter claims more than 73,000 state activists and donors. According to their mission statement, they “advocate for public policies that champion the principles of limited government as well as regulatory and fiscal restraint.” Unlike many conservative groups, they largely stay away from social issues, the Koch brothers being generally more from the libertarian wing of conservatism.
They are not immune to criticism however, even from the Republican side of the aisle. The seemingly immensely successful film tax credits have long been opposed by AFP and critics argue without them, the state would’ve lost out on a number of jobs. Additionally, although direct pay-outs can occur, the film tax credits and many others only kick in after money is already invested in the state, something critics of the AFP ideology say wouldn’t happen without those credits.
The 2017 scorecard highlights eleven bills, five of which AFP supported and six they opposed. The five bills they supported were:
HB 217, a bill to increase the cap on tax exempt dollars that can go to scholarships for students to attend private schools;
HB 329 reduces the income tax rate;
SB 2, the FAST Act which encourages government agencies to process permits or licenses in a quicker manner;
SB 50 allows doctors and patients to enter into “direct-pay” relationships outside of insurance; and,
SB 85 which removes barriers for the malt beverage business.
The bills they opposed were:
HB 125, the famous “Yacht bill” which allowed tax exemptions for repairs over $35,000;
HB 155, another tax exemption bill, this one for certain businesses in the music industry;
HB 196, also related to the music industry, this one a tax exemption for musicians’ royalty income;
HB 199, tax credits for video game makers;
HB 225 adds an online sales tax and a tax on ride sharing companies; and,
SB 41 would require the licensing for certain medical equipment suppliers.
Every legislator’s vote on each bill was calculated as part of the score. Several legislators had 100% scores but that does not mean they voted the AFP way on every bill. Six of those legislators missed one or more votes on the eleven bills. Judson Hill, who left the legislature mid-session to make a run for the empty sixth congressional district seat, scored 100% but only voted on one bill. Senator Michael Williams (R- 27 Cumming), now a governor candidate, was excused on a vote for SB 41 but received 100%. Rep. David Casas (R- 107 Lilburn), also received a 100% score but was excused on HB 199. Others receiving the “incomplete” 100% score were Reps. Sherri Gilligan (R- 24 Cumming), John Pezold (R- 133 Columbus) and David Stover (R- 71 Newnan). Only one legislator got a full slate of the 100% score, Rep. Matt Gurtler (R- 8 Tiger).
Despite the generally partisan nature of AFP and the scorecard (although they are ostensibly non-partisan, Republicans tend to score better, not a shock for a conservative advocacy group), there are surprises to be found along political lines. Rep. Dewayne Hill (R- 3 Ringgold) scored, along with four others, at the lowest at 14%. Meanwhile, Senator Nan Orrock (D- 36 Atlanta), long a liberal stalwart in the legislature, scored a 67% – but don’t expect to see that on any campaign mailers.
See how your legislator did and the full scorecard here: https://georgiascorecard.com/