Did you know that a multitude of groups record the votes of state legislators in California on issues each group deems important and then rank each legislator based on those votes? A wide variety of interest groups, think tanks, partisan groups and nonprofits produce and publish these online “legislative scorecards.”
Some scorecards focus on specific issues, while others are broader in their scope. Many of the scorecards are overtly partisan, some less so. In California, the scorecards generally focus more on agendas than single issues, with only a few number of bills- usually the most controversial ones- selected for evaluation out of the bills within their space.
The groups making the scorecards cull through all the bills introduced by the deadline to submit bill requests (late-January), select the bills they deem important to support or oppose, and then track all the votes taken on those bills as they wend their way through the yearlong legislative process of committee and floor votes.
Additions and deletions to the list occur throughout the year based on amendments made to a bill or sometimes due to a tricky process called a “gut-and-amend” – taking a legislator’s bill, stripping it of its content, and then inserting completely new content. Gut-and-amends are not common and generally are considered a hostile power play.
An example of such a tactic occurred earlier this year, when a Republican Assemblymember’s bill to eliminate the state gas tax was bottled up in a committee by the committee chair. Democrats didn’t want to give the bill a hearing, period. Then, abruptly, the bill was taken up in committee, only to be faced with a proposed amendment to strip its existing language and instead make it a bill creating a new tax on oil companies – a move that ultimately would have increasedgasoline prices. The author of the bill refused to allow his bill to be amended in that manner, so the committee then voted to kill the bill. Pure partisan games.
Below are some legislative scorecards from some of the most well-known and active advocacy groups in California. The link will take you to each group’s most recent scorecard.
Groups taking a generally conservative viewpoint:
Public employee union scorecards:
- California Teachers Association
- United Domestic Workers of America (UDW) Home Care Providers Union (home care providers union)
Groups taking a generally liberal viewpoint:
- ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
- California Environmental Justice Alliance – focused on civil justice issues
- California Environmental Voters
- California Planning and Conservation League
- California YIMBY Education Fund
- Equality California – focused on LGBTQ issues
- Health Access California
- NARAL Pro-Choice California
- Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
- The People's Report Card of California – focuses on a compilation of bills from “over 100 progressive advocacy groups throughout California.”
- Sierra Club California
Groups looking at issues based on a specific topic:
- California Food and Farming Network – focused on “policy that will support a healthy, just and resilient agriculture and food system.”
- Disability Rights California
I hope this provides you useful information that will help keep you informed about the issues – and how your elected officials in Sacramento are voting on them.