ST. GEORGE — Each year following the conclusion of the Utah Legislature’s general session, various political watchdog and advocacy groups roll out scorecards ranking how individual legislators voted in relation to those groups’ particular agendas.
Among the legislative report cards issued this year are from the Utah Taxpayers Association, Libertas Institute of Utah, Alliance for a Better Utah and O2 Utah.
Some Southern Utah lawmakers have previously started they don’t put too much stock in the report cards, as they only highlight a fraction of the 500-plus bills produced by the Legislature on an annual basis. Still, they said it is nice to be recognized for their work.
While Southern Utah lawmakers – as well as those lawmakers who represent parts of Southern Utah as a part of a multi-county Senate district – scored high in some reports, they hit rock bottom in others.
Being at the absolute bottom of one report card was mentioned by Rep. Travis Seegmiller during the Washington County Republicans organizing convention held earlier this month.
“I earned the badge of honor of being the worst lawmaker in the state,” Seegmiller said, though made a point not to mention the name of the group that ranked him as such.
He poked fun at his status, saying it was a sign he was doing something right if it didn’t mesh with the “far-left” group’s goals.
“That’s exactly right, they know who I am – I’m a constitutional advocate,” Seegmiller said before cheers at the Republican convention.
Of the four scorecards listed, Seegmiller is listed as an “F” on the Alliance for a Batter Utah’s Progress Report. Out of a possible score of 57, Seegmiller was at a -17, according to how the scores were tallied.
Links to the overall reports and the process of how each lawmaker was scored are provided in each section below.
The Utah Taxpayers Association released its legislative scorecard which focused on 14 of the 66 it tracked during the 2021 session.
Among the highest-scoring members of the House were Seegmiller and Walt Brooks at 90% and 100% respectively. Due to their 90% and above scores, they were listed among the Association’s 2021 “Friends of the Taxpayer.”
Among the bills the Association listed its support for was Brooks’ HB 86, which helped eliminate the state tax on Social Security for seniors making under $25,000 for single filers and $50,000 filing joint.
In the Senate, which averaged 74.2% of the votes in favor of the bills the Association listed, Sens. Don Ipson and Evan Vickers shared the lowest score among the state Senate Republicans at 63.6%.
See the Utah Taxpayer Association’s 2021 legislative scorecard here.
The Libertas Institute, a libertarian-leaning group based in Lehi, Utah, also produces an annual scorecard. Individuals who rate high on this list – 85% and above – are labeled “Defenders of Freedom” by the institute.
Once again, Brooks and Seegmiller were among the highest-scoring House members.
Libertas focused on 30 bills and ranked how each House and Senate member voted, resulting an average of 71% in favor of the group’s supported bills in the House, and 73% in the Senate.
A breakdown of the Libertas Institute’s 2021 scorecard can be accessed here.
Alliance for a Better Utah, a left-leaning political watchdog group, released one of the more comprehensive reports for 2021. Within it, legislators were scored on their support for or against 60-plus bills related to good government, strong communities, equal rights and a sustainable future.
“We hope that the Progress Report can help bridge this gap by giving people the tools to know what their representatives are up to and how they’re voting on the most important issues on Capitol Hill,” Lauren Simpson, policy director at Alliance for a Better Utah, said in a press release.
“Utahns deserve to know how committed their lawmakers are to building a state where everyone can thrive,” she said.
With the exception of Rep. Lowry Snow, who received a D, and Sens. Vickers and Ipson who received a C and a D, the rest of Southern Utah’s lawmakers received an F grade. Seegmiller received the lowest F score, followed closely behind by Rep. Rex Shipp.
Republicans, which make up the vast majority of the Utah Legislature, received lower grades in general when compared to their Democrat counterparts in the report.
Better Utah’s Progress Report can be accessed here, and has scores for 2021, 2020 and 2019.
O2 Utah is a new nonprofit that focuses on air quality, renewable energy, smart growth and additional issues related to the environment and public lands.
The nonprofit followed 60 bills, and like the Alliance for a Better Utah Progress Reports, Republicans graded lower compared to the Democrats on the list.
O2 Utah’s 2021 legislative report card and a breakdown of the bills they followed can be found here.
The Utah chapter of the Sierra Club, a well-known environmental advocacy group, also released a report on the 2021 Utah Legislature. The scores considered committee and floor votes for the year’s top 20 bills, reflecting a range of conservation issues, including mineral leasing fund act reform, air quality, conservation, public lands, climate change, and social justice, according to a press release.
The state Senate had an average of 68.03%, and the state House had an average of 66.92%.
“The trend of bad votes in the legislature continues to translate into poor environmental quality that burdens the health and economic opportunity of Utahns. Our leaders must do better,” Carly Ferro, director of the Utah Sierra Club said in a statement. “Climate change and excessive greenhouse gas emissions are bad for business and bad for human health. We need to break this continued resistance to progress, and bring people together to find bipartisan solutions and take action.”
A full breakdown of the Utah Sierra Club’s legislative report card can be found here.
For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.
Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.
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