I’m sure you’re all as excited as I am to know that rankings by pro-business group “Virginia FREE” for the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session are now out. Wait, you’re not excited by an anti-labor, anti-anything-progressive, business front group headed by (hard-right-wing) former Del. Chris Saxman? (note: for more on Saxman, see Project Vote Smart, which clearly shows how anti-labor, anti-LGBT equality, anti-choice, anti-environment, etc. Saxman was as a delegate)
So yeah, this group is the absolute pits, which means that if they grade you highly, you’re almost certainly bad, and if they grade you poorly, you’re probably good. With that, here are a few things that jumped out me about “Virginia FREE”‘s latest rankings.
- “Virginia FREE” claims, laughably, to be “steadfastly non-partisan,” and also that “political party identification is never considered in our deliberations.” Yet somehow, just purely coincidentally I’m sure, if you look at their grades, not a SINGLE Democrat [UPDATE: with the exception of “Sideshow Bob” Marshall, believe it or not] scored higher than any Republican. Yep, this is a “steadfastly non-partisan” group, headed up by a former hard-right delegate and rating Republicans good, Dems bad. And if you believe that one, I’ve got a beautiful bridge over some lovely swamp land to sell you…
- Want some more farcical stuff from these Republican, anti-progressive hacks? Check out the bills they “scored.” Lots of anti-labor crap like “The General Assembly considered legislation proposing a constitutional amendment to incorporate in the Constitution, Virginia’s Right To Work statute;” HOUSE BILL 18 introduced by Delegate Chris Head clarifies that employees of franchisees are not employees of the franchisor; HOUSE BILL 145 introduced by Delegate Michael Webert and HOUSE BILL 264 by Delegate Glenn Davis – both sought to curb state and local government requirements for certain labor provisions in contracting; HOUSE BILL 1371 by Delegate Jackson Miller which prevented localities from forcing contractors to pay wages or benefits above state or federal law.” Also lots of other bad stuff, like the “’Proffer Bill’ SENATE BILL 549 carried by Senator Mark Obenshain;” and “HOUSE BILL 58 introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron for the purpose of health benefit plans defines employers who have between 50 and 100 employees as large employers.” Blech.
- Also check out what “Virginia FREE” did NOT score. For instance, as a Democratic General Assembly member noted to me a few minutes ago, “apparently education isn’t part of being pro-business…neither is transportation.” As I responded, “or health care…or a healthy environment…or encouraging clean energy development…or the right to vote…or a lot of things…their attitude is clearly ‘screw all that, just gimmee the $$$$!!!'”
- Finally, check out the “Virginia FREE” rankings. The general rule of thumb here is that if you take the exact reverse of the “Virginia FREE” grades, you’re much closer to determining who the best and worst state legislators are.
- For instance: the “best” State Senators – all Republicans – from “Virginia FREE”‘s perspective (the WORST from progressives’ perspective) were, not surprisingly…Frank “Dominion’s Puppet” Wagner, Mark “Criminalize Miscarriages” Obenshain, Steve Newman, Majority Leader Tommy “Corruption R Us!” Norment, Bryce Reeves and Jill Vogel (running for LG next year).
- The best State Senators (the worst from the perspective “Virginia FREE”) from a progressive perspective were all Dems — Adam Ebbin, John Edwards, Chap Petersen, Creigh Deeds, Scott Surovell, Mamie Locke and Jennifer Wexton. I’m a bit surprised at some of these (e.g., Deeds, Petersen), which calls into question the validity of “Virginia FREE”‘s methodology. But anyway, it’s telling that all the Democrats in the Senate were at the bottom of their list, while all the Republicans were at the top.
- The worst Delegates from a progressive perspective (again, the “best” from the perspective of “Virginia FREE”) were, not surprisingly, Republicans like Barry Knight, Terry Kilgore, Tim Hugo, Kirk Cox and Dave Albo.
- Finally, the best Delegates from a progressive perspective were the worst in the view of “Virginia FREE” — all Dems, including Paul Krizek, Jennifer Boysko, Patrick Hope, Kaye Kory, Alfonso Lopez, Mark Levine, Kathleen Murphy, Delores McQuinn, Ken Plum and Marcus Simon. Congratulations to all of these legislators for their low grades by “Virginia FREE!”