Staff | July 12, 2022
A guide to OCPA’s legislative scorecard
Each year the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs releases a legislative scorecard that informs citizens how their “state legislators are voting at the Oklahoma Capitol on issues related to the principles of limited government, free markets, individual initiative, and personal responsibility.”
Legislators are graded on a 100-point scale with 100 being the best score possible.
The OCPA scorecard is among the most robust available because it includes numerous bills and also accounts for important committee votes. Because some committees hear many significant bills, while other committees handle more mundane issues, this means legislators serving on key committees can be graded on many more votes than some of their colleagues.
The scorecard is also weighted to account for the fact that some bills are major measures (for good or bad) while others have more limited impact. Thus, a lawmaker can vote in favor of several minor bills that limit government and still wreck his or her grade by opposing a major bill.
Lawmakers who author or co-author important bills are given extra credits (or demerits) based on the quality of the legislation.
The end result is a legislative score that provides a much more holistic and accurate view of a lawmaker’s overall voting record than what can be found with many other scorecards.
However, even some lawmakers struggle to understand their scores.
For example, in a June 21 radio interview on KCLI, state Rep. Anthony Moore noted his grade on the OCPA scorecard (62 for the 2022 session) was much lower than the grade received by House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (91 for the 2022 session), but claimed he and Echols “voted the exact same on every bill that they rated me on.”
However, that is not the case, and one of the bills where the two differed was among the most significant of the year. House Bill 2486 would have repealed state-pension reforms that are saving taxpayers billions of dollars. HB 2486 would have also shifted state lawmakers into a new, and likely more lucrative, retirement system.
Echols opposed that change. Moore favored it.
The two lawmakers also went their separate ways on Senate Bill 984, which would restrict the amount of money paid to contract attorneys by state agencies. Under current law, some private law firms have become eligible to be paid tens of millions of dollars for pursuing lawsuits for the state. SB 984 would limit those fees.
In that instance, Echols supported the change, but Moore opposed limiting attorney fees.
The significance of those two bills accounts for much of the difference in the two lawmakers’ scores. But there are other factors as well.
Echols also cast committee votes on several bills that Moore did not vote on, which also factors into the scores. Likewise, Moore was credited with a vote in the House Election and Rules Committee that Echols was not scored on. And the two men sponsored different legislation, which also impacts overall scores.
Citizens wishing to view a local lawmaker’s score and votes on important bills can do so at https://scorecard.ocpathink.org/#/.