Retiring senator Buck Newton is hoping to add a new title to his résumè: Attorney General of North Carolina. He has a couple of hurdles to clear in March and in November. In the meantime, he’s picked up an honor from the DC-based American Conservative Union.
In their 2015 state legislative rankings, Newton was honored for “conservative excellence” in achieving a perfect score of 100 percent in the group’s rating system. (He also scored 100 percent in 2014.)
The overall average rating for the North Carolina Senate in 2015 was 71 percent. The average Republican rating was 86 percent, while the average Democrat rating was 40 percent. Newton was one of only five senators — all Republicans — to score between 90 and 100 percent. Democrat Ben Clark, at 78 percent, was rated the most conservative on his side of the aisle. Republican Fletcher Hartsell, retiring this year, was rated the most liberal on his side of the aisle with a score of 56 percent.
How did the ACU reach their conclusions? They picked a number of votes they considered key and took a position. If you voted how they perceived to be the “right” way, you scored points. Here are the votes:
1. H 157 Hydraulic Fracking. This bill removes a mandate requiring the creation of air pollution rules for hydraulic fracking and instead allows the state Environmental Management Commission to issue such rules only if deemed necessary. ACU supports reducing government regulation and supported this bill. The Senate passed the bill on March 16, 2015 by a vote of 39-10.
2. S 372 Renewable Energy Subsidies. This bill extends the Renewable Energy Tax Credit for one year. ACU opposes market distorting tax credits and would prefer lower rates for all energy companies, and opposed this bill. The Senate voted to pass the bill on April 1, 2015 by a vote of 37-7. 3.
S 374 Fishing Licenses. This bill changes the mandatory requirement for a logbook by “for hire” coastal recreational fishing businesses to a voluntary program and requires the creation of a stakeholder advisory for input on regulations. ACU supports streamlining government regulation and supported this bill. The Senate passed the bill on April 23, 2015 by a vote of 49-0.
4. S 25 Zoning Regulations. This bill would, with some exceptions, prohibit a county from adopting zoning and aesthetic regulations that involve building design for one and two family dwellings. ACU supports strengthening private property rights and supported this bill. The Senate passed the bill on April 27, 2015 by a vote of 43-7.
5. H 465 Abortion Restrictions. This bill increases the waiting period before an abortion can be performed from 24 to 72 hours and would ban doctors not licensed as obstetricians or gynecologists from performing abortions. ACU views abortion as a human tragedy and supports efforts to restrict the practice and educate patients, and supported this bill. The Senate passed the bill on June 1, 2015 by a vote of 32-16.
6. S 2 Religious Freedom. This bill would allow government officials to cite “sincerely held” religious beliefs as a reason not to participate in same-sex marriages in the state. Magistrates and registrars of deeds who opt-out in writing would then be exempt from performing all marriages for six months. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall ensure that a magistrate in that jurisdiction is available to perform the marriages and if not, designate someone to perform them. ACU supports these religious freedom protections and supported this bill. The Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of the bill on June 1, 2015 by a vote of 32-16.
7. H 405 Property Rights. Allows for recovery of damages in civil action from those who capture data from a company without authorization through electronic or other means. ACU supports strong property rights and supported this bill. The Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of the bill on June 3, 2015 by a vote of 33-15.
8. H 640 Sunday Hunting. This bill allows North Carolina to join 39 other states in ending a centuries old ban on Sunday hunting on privately owned property. ACU supports this reform that strengthens private property rights and supported this bill. The Senate passed the bill on June 24, 2015 by a vote of 33-15.
9. H 562 Concealed Carry. This bill would reduce restrictions on who can carry a concealed weapon and where those weapons can be carried, as well as other provisions that streamline firearm regulations. ACU supports protecting our founder’s belief in the Second Amendment and supported this bill. The Senate passed the bill on July 27, 2015 by a vote of 40-9.