NC-03: All 3 legislators in GOP race basically neck-and-neck in Civitas rankings

 

Usually, the epithet “liberal” gets reserved for general election contests. But it is already getting tossed around  quite, um, “liberally” in the Third Congressional District GOP primary.

SO, we decided to do some research to see if we actually have some liberals slithering in the field — starting with our three legislators.  (After all, there’s much more documentation available.)

For years, Civitas has been the gold standard for rating the conservative effectiveness of  North Carolina legislators.  A rating of “ZERO” makes you a commie, while a rating of 100 makes you an ideal, perfect conservative.

Reps.  Mike Speciale (R-Craven), Phil Shepard (R-Onslow) and Greg Murphy (R-Pitt) are among the 17 candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

2018 – 

For this year, the trio was separated by less than a handful of percentage points.

Mike Speciale had the highest ranking of the trio with a score of 90.  What vote(s) did Civitas zap him on? 

This one:

HB 933 Reciprocity/School Psychologist Licensure (Amended Version)

 

This bill would direct the State Board of Education to grant license as a school psychologist to any individual who holds the Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential. This would enable school psychologists moving to North Carolina to bypass specific state licensing hurdles, making it easier for them to practice their profession and easier for NC schools to fill these positions.

Civitas Action supports the removal of government barriers to entry to occupations. Additionally, the Senate added a provision allowing for certain nonprofit membership organizations (such as the Farm Bureau) to provide self-funded health benefit plans. This would provide more flexible options to eligible members. Civitas Action supports providing health care consumers with more options. The conservative vote is yes.

Apparently, Speciale did not vote FOR this.

 

Greg Murphy came in a close second with a score of 87.5.  What vote(s) did Civitas zap him on?

This one:

SB 758 Build NC Bond Act

This bill would authorize up to $3 billion in new state debt without voter approval. The proceeds from the bonds would be devoted to transportation projects. Civitas Action believes that voters should be allowed to vote on all issuances of state debt. The conservative vote is no.

 

Apparently, Murphy voted FOR this.

 

Coming in third was Phil Shepard with a conservative rating of 85.7.  What vote(s) did Civitas zap him on? 

This one:

 

SB 758 Build NC Bond Act

This bill would authorize up to $3 billion in new state debt without voter approval. The proceeds from the bonds would be devoted to transportation projects. Civitas Action believes that voters should be allowed to vote on all issuances of state debt. The conservative vote is no.

 

Just like Murphy. Why the difference in scores for Murphy and Shepard?  Shepard had an excused absence on three of the key votes that Civitas used for the ratings.  Murphy had two excused absences.

Speciale was present to vote on ALL of the key votes Civitas tracked.

Your average Democrat House member scored between 20 and 50 in the Civitas rankings.  THOSE folks are “liberals.”

So, in 2018, it is safe to say that there really wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between our three GOP legislators’ voting records.

On to 2017

It’s safe to say the trio’s scores weren’t as pretty this year.

Mike Speciale scored 86.7 — one point higher than Phil Shepard’s 2018 score.  What vote(s) did Civitas zap him on?

This one:

HB 250 – Body Art Regulation Changes

 

This bill subjects body piercings to the same state regulation and licensing requirements as tattoos. Mainly, body piercers would be required to obtain a license to practice, and also comply with sanitary inspection requirements currently applied to tattoo parlors. Body piercing is currently not subject to any such regulations. Civitas Action opposes government-imposed professional licensing that imposes unnecessary costs and barriers to entry on people wanting to earn a living in their given trade. The stated reason for this bill is consumer safety, but the increased barrier to entry and resulting higher prices for “licensed” body artists will likely cause more body piercings to take place in the black market. The conservative vote is no.

 

And this one:

Senate Joint Resolution 36, Convention of the States. The resolution would authorize the North Carolina legislature to apply to the U.S. Congress for a calling of a Convention of the States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution provides for such a convention to be called upon the application of two-thirds of the states. The purpose of the convention would be to propose amendments “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.” Civitas Action supports measures to restore balance between the power of the federal government and states’ rights. The conservative vote is yes.

 

Greg Murphy scored a 73.3. (That put him in line with Tim Moore, David Lewis, and other members of House leadership.)  What vote(s) did Civitas zap him on? 

This One:

House Bill 206, NC Cancer Treatment Fairness

 

This bill requires that all health insurance plans that provide coverage for “intravenously administered or injected anticancer drugs” must also provide equal coverage for orally-administered anticancer drugs. The House approved the measure 90-22 on Monday. In short, this is another government-mandated health insurance service coverage. North Carolina already imposes 57 such mandates on insurance plans sold in the state, ranking NC among the top 15 states in that category. Estimates show these mandatory coverages have caused insurance premiums to rise between 20 to 50 percent higher than they would be without the mandates. Civitas Action opposes health insurance coverage mandates and believes consumers and providers should be free to agree on a wide selection of coverage levels that best suit the consumers’ needs, rather than government forcing consumers to pay for costly mandates they will never need. The conservative vote is no. House: RCS 208 (90-22)

And this one:

HB 250  Body Art regulation changes

 

This bill subjects body piercings to the same state regulation and licensing requirements as tattoos. Mainly, body piercers would be required to obtain a license to practice, and also comply with sanitary inspection requirements currently applied to tattoo parlors. Body piercing is currently not subject to any such regulations. Civitas Action opposes government-imposed professional licensing that imposes unnecessary costs and barriers to entry on people wanting to earn a living in their given trade. The stated reason for this bill is consumer safety, but the increased barrier to entry and resulting higher prices for “licensed” body artists will likely cause more body piercings to take place in the black market. The conservative vote is no. House Vote Only House: 2R, RCS #396 (113-4)

 

And this one:

 

Senate Bill 223 Exclude Tiers 1 & 2 from JDIG Cap

 

This bill would waive the current annual cap on JDIG grants in cases in which one of the grantees is considered a “transformative project” or if the project in wholly located in a Tier One or Tier Two county. JDIG is the Job Development Investment Grant program, which doles out taxpayer funds to companies meeting certain criteria. Civitas Action is against corporate welfare programs that give taxpayer dollars to select companies. Forcing taxpayers to subsidize businesses in unfair, especially given the fact that some of those taxpayers may be subsidizing their competition. The practice of corporate welfare also empowers politicians at the expense of citizens and invites political corruption and cronyism. The conservative vote is no. House: 2R, RCS #889 (99-10)

 

And this one:

 

HB 589 – Competitive Energy Solutions for NC

 

Despite its name, this bill is anything but competitive or a solution. Most troubling is an entirely new program, the Solar Rebate Program on page 17 of the bill. This program is very similar to the expired tax credits NC was offering, except in this case instead of the taxpayer paying for them, it will be utility customers paying through their electric bills. Other provisions in the bill include: lifting the state’s ban on third-party leasing, promoting net metering, shortening the terms of contracts between utilities and “renewable” energy providers, and introducing a competitive bidding process for utilities soliciting proposals from “renewable” facility developers. While we can acknowledge aspects of the bill, like competitive bidding and shortening contract terms, may be beneficial to ratepayers, the troubling nature of the rebate program in particular creates concern enough for Civitas Action to oppose this bill. Civitas Action opposes government mandates and subsidies in any industry, especially in the energy industry which affects all businesses and citizens across the state. We urge our legislators to either kill this bill or take prudent and reasonable action and turn it into a study bill to make sure they get the legislation right. The conservative vote is no. House: 2R, RCS 585 (108-11)

 

Phil Shepard earned a score of 69.2 for 2017.  What vote(s) did Civitas zap him on?

  • HB250 – Body Art Changes (just like Speciale and Murphy)
  • HB206 — NC Cancer Treatment Fairness (Just like Murphy)
  • HB589 — Competitive Energy Solutions for NC (just like Murphy)

Shepard had an excused absence for  this:

HB 770  Various clarifying changes

 

This bill moves from the governor to the legislature two appointments to the State Medical Board, and also allows an employee at the NC Industrial Commission to draw an additional salary for serving on the state Property Tax Commission. Technical updates to other legislation was also included. The conservative vote on the veto override is yes.

(We disagree with Civitas’ assessment of  a ‘yes’ vote being a “conservative” vote on that one. )

6 thoughts on “NC-03: All 3 legislators in GOP race basically neck-and-neck in Civitas rankings

  1. Civitas ratings used to be a good indicator until John Hood cracked the establishment whip and refused to let them rate on some of the more meaningful votes that actually separate liberals from conservatives like the repeal of HB2, by far the most important indicator of conservative or liberal positions that term (Speciale and Sheppard voted the conservative position against repeal, while Murphy voted the liberal position for repeal). Since Hood started monkeying with them, they have lost their credibility, often rating on insignificant issues like body art regulations. There was also a key gun vote, for example, that Hood nixed from the rating.

    There are also quite a number of partisan votes included, which are not good indicators because they only separate Republicans from Democrats not conservatives from liberals. This bumps up all Republicans and makes the headline number even less meaningful.

    But lets look at the issues rated on in these particular ratings that do have significance. One involves growing government debt, something that is a huge issue in Congress, and something Walter Jones consistently voted against. On the debt issue that is in these ratings, both Murphy and Sheppard voted the liberal position, for government increasing debt, while Speciale voted the conservative position, against increasing government debt. Speciale voted in the legislature like Walter Jones always voted in Congress, against debt. That was one of Walter’s trademarks.

    Along the same lines, on the current government debt issue going through the legislature, again Special is against it while Murphy and Sheppard are for it.

    Another is the H598, which can be called North Carolina’s “Little Green New Deal”, creating ratepayer subsidies for the corrupt crony capitalist special interest wind and solar energy cabal. Walter Jones always voted against this nonsense in Congress, and Speciale voted against it in the legislature. Murphy and Sheppard took the liberal special interest position and voted for it.

    Since Hood’s interference in these ratings, the headline numbers have become meaningless due to leaving out key conservative legislation and including too much that is really partisan rather than ideological or are simply not important issues like the one on body art, but there are still a few gems to be found on specific bills that do show a liberal or conservative position. Government debt and kowtowing to Big Solar and Big Wind are two of them.

    There are also issues included that conservatives are not in agreement like the convention of states.

  2. I have to say that the repeal of HB 2 was a significant issue vote as well as HB598. I think Civitas purposely left those off their ratings because the vote was 40 Republicans for the repeal and 35 against (HB2). Bad for the image of a “conservative” legislature and we cannot have too many R’s in the 50% range. But, grading tattoo shops over HB2 and HB 598, good thing they were able to expose the real conservatives!

    1. Having served on the Board of the old North Carolina Conservative Union, a former state affiliate of the American Conservative Union, and been involved in their ratings of the North Carolina General Assembly back in the 1970s, I am quite familiar with the rating process. Prior to that, I was also a summer intern at the American Conservative Union and spent about half my time there helping with their Congressional ratings.

      Civitas’ early ratings were well done and focused where they should on major issues and on those that truly separated conservatives from liberals. However, there was a sea change that was quite evident when they started using more partisan issues instead of ideological ones and started using insignificant issues while too often ignoring major ones. I think you are right that this was done to artificially boost the scores of less conservative Republicans to project an overall party image. Sources in Raleigh told me at the time this was happening where the pressure was coming from to do it. Sadly, a rating that started off as a real resource for conservatives degenerated into a joke.

      Something like this happened to the American Conservative Union ratings of Congress as its Board become less conservative under two successive chairmen. Their rating became a complete joke in 2014 when ACU went overboard to try to help establishment kingpin Mitch McConnell in his hotly fought primary with conservative Matt Bevin (who is now GOP governor of Kentucky). ACU manipulated the issues they rated on to give McConnell a 100% conservative score, the only one in the Senate. Even average Kentucky voters did not believe that nonsense, and the comments on conservative sites like Red State were caustic toward the ACU and its clear manipulation of its rating. Calling McConnell more conservative than Ted Cruz and Mike Lee was just laughable. That blew up in ACU’s face and their ratings have not had much credibility since then

  3. Although I am conservative, the most important thing is who is the true constitutional candidate? Once again Speciale would take that title easily which is why he has earned the RLC-NC Legislator of the Year award. Speciale is the obvious choice for anyone who calls themselves constitutional conservatives

  4. “Not a dime’s worth of difference?”

    I see this one differently!

    Michael Speciale IS the most conservative of the 3. However, not 1 of the 3 are really liberal.

    Michael has sponsored and worked to pass bills to remove infringements on our gun rights that have crept into NC laws, to crack down on illegal aliens, to defend the right to life, to protect our historic monuments, and much more of that ilk. He doesn’t just vote well himself, he also visits other legislators and works to convince them to vote with him. He has even changed the minds of some legislators AFTER a bad bill has come to the floor of the House, and that’s very unusual because “leadership” counts votes and doesn’t usually bring bills to the floor that won’t pass.

    As for Michael Speciale’s NO vote on calling a Constitutional Convention, that’s not a conservative vs. liberal issue. There are conservatives on both sides. There are liberals on both sides. Many conservatives (including me) think that calling a constitutional convention would open Pandora’s box and could cause us to LOSE our constitutional protection for free speech, bearing arms, and the like. Besides, if the issue is that the US Constitution is being ignored, is the solution to change it? What sense does that make???

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