Naysayers in the 2016 Utah Legislature

Even more so than Representatives, Senators really don’t like voting “nay.”

Utah legislators don’t like voting no. Well, most of them don’t. Only 3% (House) and 1% (Senate) of floor votes held in 2016 failed, and that was consistent with past trends:

Utah Legislature - Percentage of failed floor votes, 2007-2016

But every average has its exceptions, and this average is no exception. Let’s start in the House.

Who votes “nay” in the House?

Folks probably expect that minority Democrats vote “no” more often than majority Republicans, so I won’t dwell on them. I’ll just state for the record that the most frequent “nay” voters in the House were Representatives Chavez-Houck (15%), Romero (14%), Brian King (14%), and Briscoe (13%).

But there were a few House Republicans up there. Representatives Thurston (13%), Roberts (13%), McCay (12%), and Greene (11%) cast more “nay” votes than many of their Democratic colleagues.

The end of Dan McNay?

The big surprise here is that Dan McCay, a Republican, has fallen from his pedestal. During his first three years of service, he cast more “nay” votes than anybody else, of any party. Now, in his fourth year, he fell to 10th place–behind 7 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Maybe that means folks don’t get to call him Rep. McNay any more.

Who votes “nay” in the Senate?

Even more so than Representatives, Senators really don’t like voting “nay.” Let’s take all 75 Representatives and all 29 Senators, 104 legislators in all, put them together. Of these 104, let’s look at the 15 legislators who cast the fewest “nay” votes. Turns out that 13 of these 15 are in the Senate.

Let’s take another tack: 22 of 29 Senators–that’s three-quarters of the chamber–voted “nay” less than 5% of the time. The House is almost three times bigger, yet there were almost exactly as many Representatives (23, or 31% of the chamber) with a similar “nay” rate. Senators are just more friendly, I guess.

The highest “nay” rate in the Senate came from Republican Sen. Margaret Dayton, voting “nay” 11% of the time. That puts her behind 13 Representatives, but well ahead of any fellow Senators. Her closest Senate competition came from Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat who voted “nay” only 8% of the time.

Find “nay” voting rates for all legislators here.

About Adam Brown: Adam Brown is an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You can learn more about him at his website.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Naysayers in the 2016 Utah Legislature

Who missed the most votes in the 2016 Utah Legislature?

The perfect attendance award goes to Rep. Michael Kennedy, the only legislator to miss zero votes.

Utah Legislators had only 45 days to consider 819 bills, passing 475 of them. The Legislature moves at such a breakneck pace that falling ill for a day or two can mean missing a lot of votes; running around persuading legislators to vote for a bill you’re running can mean missing even more votes. Nevertheless, absenteeism tends to be pretty low in the Utah House, with an average of only 6% of Representatives (4.5 out of 75 total) missing any given vote. The rate is a bit higher in the Utah Senate, at 14% (4.1 of 29 total). Absenteeism in the Senate has been rising steadily, but it has remained steady in the House:

Utah Legislature - Average Absentee Rate, 2007-2016

Of course, some legislators contribute more to those averages than others. The perfect attendance award goes to Rep. Michael Kennedy, the only legislator to miss zero votes. Honorable mentions (for missing fewer than 1% of votes) go to Kay Christofferson, Fred Cox, John Westwood, Val Peterson, and Bruce Cutler, all in the House, and all Republican.

At the other end are those who missed many, many, many votes. Last year, Speaker Greg Hughes set a record (for my data, which span 10 sessions) with his 37% absentee rate. It’s common for chamber leaders to miss votes as they work behind the scenes hashing out compromises, but 37% was far higher than we had seen from other legislative leaders. This year, he brought his absentee rate down to 29%–still far higher than the 21% absentee rate of his Senate counterpart, Wayne Niederhauser, and still far higher than 22% rate of his predecessor, Becky Lockhart, in 2014, but enough of a reduction that Greg Hughes didn’t have the highest absentee rate this year.

This year’s most absent? Sen. Jani Iwamoto, who was excused for several days near the end of the session for medical reasons, missed 46% of votes. Close on her heels was Sen. Mark Madsen, who poured his soul into SB 73, his medical marijuana bill, and appears to have had little appetite for much else. Perhaps for similar reasons, Sen. Steve Urquhart came in third, with a 37% absentee rate, having poured his soul into hate crimes legislation and ending the death penalty.

You’ll find absentee rates for all legislators at my personal website.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Who missed the most votes in the 2016 Utah Legislature?

The closest votes of the 2016 Legislature

Two of the session’s closest Senate votes came 45 minutes apart, voting on the same bill, within an hour of adjournment, with opposite results.

The Utah Legislature loves consensus. Bills seldom pass on party-line votes. Instead, votes routinely pass with both Republicans and Democrats on board, producing an average majority size of 93% (House) and 96% (Senate).

But averages have exceptions, and there were some doozies in the 2016 Legislature. Let’s start in the House. With 75 Representatives, it takes 38 votes to pass. Two issues were decided by a single vote, both eking out passage on a 38-37 decision. Unsurprisingly, they were both issues that attracted lots of coverage: HB221, which requires parents opting out of vaccinations for their school-age children to first watch an educational video, and HJR18, which calls for a Constitutional convention to consider term limits for the US Congress.

Here’s the full list of House floor votes that were decided by a margin of 10% (7.5 votes) or fewer:

Bill Vote type Ayes-Nays-Absent Vote margin
HB0221S10 House/ passed 3rd reading 38-37-0 1
HJR018 House/ passed 3rd reading 38-37-0 1
SB0045S03 House/ passed 3rd reading 39-35-1 4
HB0221S10 House/ substituted from # 6 to # 8 39-35-1 4
SB0251S03 House/ floor amendment # 1 40-35-0 5
SJR002 House/ passed 3rd reading 39-34-2 5
SB0086 House/ passed 3rd reading 39-33-3 6
HB0011S02 House/ failed 32-38-5 6
HB0091 House/ failed 34-40-1 6
HB0116S03 House/ failed 33-39-3 6
SB0045S03 House/ failed 32-39-4 7
SB0115S04 House/ failed 33-40-2 7
HB0220S01 House/ passed 3rd reading 41-33-1 8
HJR008 House/ passed 3rd reading 41-33-1 8

Now let’s go the Senate. With 29 Senators, it takes 15 votes to pass. The closest vote wasn’t a 15-14 vote, though–rather, it was a 13-13 vote, with 3 absent, rejecting HB348 at 11:02pm on March 10–only 58 minutes before the session’s constitutionally-mandated adjournment. 45 minutes later, HB348 came back for reconsideration and passed into law on a 15-12-2 vote, just 13 minutes before the midnight deadline. Yes, that means two of the session’s closest Senate votes came 45 minutes apart, voting on the same bill, within an hour of adjournment, with opposite results.

After that lone 13-13 tie, the next-closest vote was a failed 14-15 vote on SB61, which would have eliminated indoor smoking rooms at Utah airports.

This table lists all Senate votes decided by a margin of less than 10%–that is, 2.9 votes or fewer.

Bill Vote type Ayes-Nays-Absent Vote margin
HB0348S02 Senate/ failed 13-13-3 0
SB0061 Senate/ failed 14-15-0 1
SB0073S03 Senate/ passed 2nd reading 15-13-1 2
SB0125S01 Senate/ failed 13-11-5 2
SB0180 Senate/ failed 13-15-1 2
HB0223S03 Senate/ failed 13-11-5 2
SB0189 Senate/ passed 3rd reading 15-12-2 3
HB0041 Senate/ failed 11-14-4 3
HB0348S02 Senate/ passed 2nd & 3rd readings/ suspension 15-12-2 3
HB0431 Senate/ passed 2nd & 3rd readings/ suspension 15-12-2 3

Though most votes pass with near unanimity, legislators throw enough of these nailbiters out there to keep things interesting.

You can find longer tables, as well as tables for past years, at my closest floor votes page.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The closest votes of the 2016 Legislature

Unanimity remained the rule in the 2016 Utah Legislature

Utah’s Republicans and Democrats vote together more often than they vote against each other.

Last fall, House Minority Leader directed a scathing op-ed at his Republican counterparts. Near the end of the 2016 session, Utah’s legislators approved changes to the (traditionally bipartisan) Legislative Management Committee placing the majority Republicans in control–a move that some have interpreted as retaliation for House Democrats’ more confrontational tone.

Whether these changes (via HB220) were retaliation or not, it appears that Democrats and Republicans continue to get along well overall. Though the Legislature remains 84% Republican, the average floor vote passed with 93% (House) or 96% (Senate) of legislators voting together. We’ve seen similarly high numbers for the past decade:

Utah Legislature - Average Voting Majority, 2007-2016

You don’t get to 93/96% unless Democrats and Republicans vote together. In fact, it was very very very rare to see a vote where most Democrats voted against most Republicans. Only 14% (House) and 6% (Senate) of floor votes divided legislators along party lines. Again, these rates were typical of the past decade:

Utah Legislature - Frequency of Party-Line Votes, 2007-2016

Moreover, majority Republicans didn’t seem to pay much mind to a legislator’s party affiliation when deciding whether to vote for that legislator’s bills. Of bills sponsored by Republicans, 59% passed; of bills sponsored by Democrats, 53% passed. That 6% gap is the narrowest party gap as we’ve seen in a long time. Pay attention to the blue bars in this chart, which show the party gap:

Maybe, as some have suggested, HB220 was retaliation by Republicans against Democrats for Brian King’s more combative tone. If it was, though, then that appears to have been the extent of it. As always, Utah’s Republicans and Democrats vote together more often than they vote against each other.

Look for more data like this on my floor voting statistics page.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The 2016 Legislature: Slowing down while speeding up

Legislators introduced 177 bills in the session’s final three weeks.

Despite being limited to only 45 lawmaking days, Utah’s Legislature sure passes a lot of bills–2 to 3 times as many bills per year as Congress. After last year’s record of 528 bills, though, the Legislature put the brakes on just a little this year, passing only 475, a 10% reduction. That’s still a lot of bills, but you’ve got to back 9 session, to the 2009 session, to get fewer; only 450 bills were passed that year. Here’s the chart:

Total bills passed, 2007-2016

So what changed? Let’s pick this apart a bit more.

The more things change…

Not only were there fewer bills, but more of them were ready on day one. Legislators introduced 282 bills on the first day and 376 by the end of the first week. These aren’t records, but it has been 8 years since so many bills were introduced so early. This represents a welcome reversal of an unfortunate trend over the past several years–a trend that saw legislators introducing their bills late in the 45-day session.

Let’s talk about 2008. In a year when 744 bills were considered and 436 bills were passed, most bills (410, or 55% of 744) were introduced during the first week, and nearly all (551, or 74%) had been introduced by the end of the second week. That means legislators in 2008 had the session’s full 45 days to go through all those bills. On average, 16 days passed between a bill’s introduction and its first floor vote. For bills that passed, 29 days passed between introduction and the final floor vote. Keeping in mind that the Utah Constitution limits the Legislature to 45 days, 29 days is a reasonable amount of time for vetting.

But the next few years, two things happened: Legislators began passing more bills, but they also began introducing them later in the session. Combined, these changes created a frantic rush to hurriedly pass hundreds of bills in the session’s final week. The low point came in 2011. Of the 782 bills introduced that year, only one-third had been introduced by the end of the first week, and barely half (52%) had been introduced by the end of the second week. Vetting time dropped as a result. Only 13 days passed between introduction and an average bill’s first floor vote, a 20% reduction from 2008’s 16-day average. For bills that passed, only 26 days passed between introduction and the final vote, a 10% reduction from 2008.

Now, let’s come back to 2016. Legislators introduced 819 bills this year, a tremendously high number that stands second only to last year’s high of 831. But they introduced those bills earlier in the session, allowing for a little more vetting time. Looking at the 475 bills that passed this year, the average bill aged 28 days between introduction and final passage–the longest span we’ve seen since 2008.

For those who see things graphically, here’s a chart showing the number of bills introduced during each session’s first week. The trend is pretty clear.

Bills in First Week, 2007-2016

… the more things stay the same

But. There is always a but.

It is true that legislators got more of their bills out earlier in the session. But because the overall number of bills remains high, there were nevertheless an awful lot of bills introduced very late in the session, leaving little time for deliberation.

Legislators introduced 177 bills in the session’s final three weeks. That’s a 10-year record at least. (My data go back only 10 sessions.) Back in 2007, legislators introduced only 50 bills in the session’s final three weeks, a number that has been rising ever since. Since we’re doing charts, here’s another.

Bills introduced in final three weeks

So what did we see in 2016? Legislators are getting back in the habit of introducing more bills early in the session–but at the same time, they’re also introducing more bills at the tail end of the session. It’s the middle that has dropped out, apparently.

You can find additional statistical tables related to this post at my personal site.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The 2016 Legislature: Slowing down while speeding up

Is Utah A Swing State?

If Trump manages to obtain the Republican party’s nomination Utah may be a hotly contested battleground state in 2016.

While we’re still more than a year away from electing our next president, news stories abound regarding the abundance of candidates seeking the Republican nomination. With 17 candidates in the field, it is perhaps a little surprising to see one candidate receiving so much of the media’s attention this early in the race. It will come as no shock that I am talking about real estate mogul, reality television celebrity, and self-described really rich person, Donald Trump.

While the news media fill hours of programming each day discussing the ongoing primary campaign, political scientists often feel the responsibility to be the buzzkill of the party by telling people that discussing presidential polls this far out (we’re more than 14 months away from the election!) is not a particularly meaningful activity. Polls taken at this point in the race tend to not do well at predicting the eventual party nominee or the candidate that will end up moving into the White House.

However, as political scientists, we sometimes can’t help ourselves and we go against all of our own advice and conduct a poll that’s just too interesting not to talk about. Plus, it’s summer time and who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of fun political news to discuss at the next neighborhood cookout? With that being said, the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (CSED) at Brigham Young University surveyed Utah voters on August 10th – 18th regarding a number of topics and political issues. One of the questions we asked was:

If the 2016 presidential election were being held today and the candidates were Hillary Clinton, the Democrat, and Donald Trump, the Republican, for whom would you vote?

While these types of hypothetical questions may not tell us much about the eventual outcome of the election, they do tell us about public opinion right now. A lot can change between now and the election, including a completely different pair of candidates being the parties’ nominees. But with those caveats out of the way, we present the results of this hypothetical matchup in Utah.

 

Figure 1

The figure above shows the overall proportion of respondents who favor Clinton and Trump respectively. Donald Trump defeats Clinton in this hypothetical race by about 8 points (54% to 46%). If this were the actual election outcome in Utah in November 2016 it would mark the most competitive presidential race in the state in 50 years. The next most competitive election occurred in Utah in 1964 when Democrat Lyndon Johnson beat Republican Barry Goldwater 55% to 45%. If Trump manages to obtain the Republican party’s nomination Utah may be a hotly contested battleground state in 2016.

Let’s look a little deeper at these numbers to see where the support for the two candidates comes from. The following figure shows the hypothetical vote question broken down by Republicans, Independents, Democrats, and those who say they have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party.

As we can see both Trump and Clinton are polarizing figures in American politics. Among Republicans in the survey, Trump handily defeats Clinton with slightly more than 80% support. Clinton defeats Trump among Democrats with basically unanimous support. However, despite the polarization, Trump still needs help from a large share of the state’s independent voters in order to carry the state. We see that Trump’s narrow victory statewide is largely a factor of the large majority (60%) of votes Clinton gains from voters that do not identify with either political party.

Figure 2

Another interesting pattern is the near unanimous support Trump receives among those who identify as Tea Party supporters. This is perhaps an unexpected friendship as Trump has in the past endorsed a number of policies that are vehemently opposed by Tea Party supporters. Despite this incongruence, Trump is supported by 98% of those who also support the Tea Party.

Should these results worry the Republican Party nationally? Utah has been a solidly Republican state in presidential elections for the last 50 years. If the reddest of red states is suddenly a swing state, should Republicans be concerned about Trump damaging the party’s chances to take the White House in 2016? Yes and no. While polls are fun to discuss, Donald Trump is very much a long shot for the Republican nomination. Political scientists often use other measures aside from polls as better indicators of the parties’ likely nominees. These indicators include support from campaign donors, endorsements from elected officials, and favorable views from party activists. While Trump is skilled at courting media attention, he has not invested in building support from these important inside groups. Thus, Trump may not be a direct concern to Republicans hoping to take the White House in 2016. And yet, with each speech, the remaining 16 candidates must react, and often go on the record in response to, politically insensitive statements made by Trump. These are often topics that candidates would rather not discuss as they know the responses that please Republican primary voters are often off-putting to independents and swing voters. Thus, Trump’s presence in the race may indirectly hurt the eventual Republican nominee in the general election.

While nothing is certain, watching these 17 candidates vie for the nomination will make for an entertaining summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, and fall. Oh yeah, did I mention we’re still more than a year away from this thing being over?

 

About Michael Barber: Michael Barber is an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. He studies legislative politics in the United States. More of his research is available at http://michaeljaybarber.com

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is Utah A Swing State?

Recap: The 2015 Utah Legislature

Last Thursday, the Utah Legislature concluded its seven-week annual lawmaking session. The state’s major newspapers have already published several excellent recaps of the major policy changes coming out of the session. So now I’ll give my annual recap of the session’s trends and operations. I posted all the following today:

The 2015 Legislature passed 528 bills in 45 days. People are calling 528 bills a record for a single session. But the more important record might be this one: Of the 528 bills passed, 277 of them didn’t pass their final vote until the final week of the Legislative session.

The closest votes in the 2015 Utah Legislature. This year’s closest votes dealt with bitcoin, natural gas vehicles, anonymous campaign contributions, truth in advertising, transportation funding, car emissions, medical marijuana, and party nomination procedures.

The naysayers: Which Utah legislators vote “no” the most? Most votes in the 2015 Legislature passed with 90+% support, yet some legislators seem to pride themselves on casting lots of “nay” votes. And it’s not minority party legislators who vote “nay” the most–it’s Republicans.

Who sponsored the most bills in 2015? One Senator has sponsored 158 bills over the past 6 years. He was at it again this year: Sen. Curt Bramble introduced 32 bills in 2015, passing 28.

Which legislators missed the most votes in 2015? The new Speaker, Greg Hughes, seems to have set a record for missing votes. With the exception of one legislator in 2008 who was dying of cancer, Hughes missed more floor votes this session (37%) than any other legislator in the past 9 years.

And, just for fun, here are some links to a few things I posted over the past few months that are relevant to the session. Regular readers will have seen these already:

What Utah voters want from their Legislature. Poll results from October 2014 on a variety of policy issues.

The 2015 Legislature will be Utah’s 2nd most Republican since the Depression. An analysis from November 2014. The Legislature is 84% Republican now.

Pretty much nobody likes the Zion Curtain. Poll results from November show a desire to remove alcohol preparation barriers.

Utahns like Herbert and non-discrimination; they don’t like Senators and clocks. Poll results from early in the session showed support for a non-discrimination law and ambivalence about ending daylight saving time.

You can find lots more statistics and information about the 2015 General Session at my other site.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Recap: The 2015 Utah Legislature

Which legislators missed the most votes in 2015?

When it comes to healthy legislators, Greg Hughes set a new record this year for missing votes

Utah Legislators considered 831 bills during the seven-week 2015 General Session, passing 528 of them. Debating so many bills in so little time inevitably means that legislators leave the floor to court allies, negotiate language, meet with lobbyists, and generally keep things moving.

The time crunch is especially pronounced in the Senate, where responsibilities are divided among only 29 Senators as opposed to 75 Representatives. Perhaps that’s why absentee rates are consistently higher in the Senate than the House. During the 2015 General Session, the typical Senate floor vote had an absentee rate of 12%. The average rate in the House was 6%. (For absentee rates in previous years, click here.)

Of course, some legislators miss far more votes than others. I’ll start with the (almost) perfect attendance awards. The 10 legislators who missed the fewest votes:

DiCaro, Sophia M. R House 0%
Hollins, Sandra D House 1%
Peterson, Val L. R House 1%
Christofferson, Kay J. R House 1%
Westwood, John R. R House 1%
Handy, Stephen G. R House 1%
Thurston, Norman K. R House 1%
Romero, Angela D House 1%
Chew, Scott H. R House 1%
Miller, Justin J. D House 1%

Those are some impressive records. Rep. Sophia DiCaro missed only one vote out of 699 held in the Utah House.

Aaaaaand now we come to the other end of the table. Here are the 10 most absent legislators:

McIff, Kay L. R House 17%
Dabakis, Jim D Senate 18%
Sanpei, Dean R House 20%
Hillyard, Lyle W. R Senate 21%
Urquhart, Stephen H. R Senate 22%
Stevenson, Jerry W. R Senate 22%
Dee, Brad L. R House 24%
Madsen, Mark B. R Senate 29%
Adams, J. Stuart R Senate 35%
Hughes, Gregory H. R House 37%

I think we’ve got a record here, folks. Two of them, actually.

My data span 9 years. And in that span, the two highest absentee rates went to legislators with serious health issues. Rep. Bowman missed 48% of votes in 2008 while dying of cancer. And Sen. Buttars missed 36% in 2011; he retired at the end of the session due to his health issues.

Though he is apparently healthy, the new Speaker of the Utah House, Greg Hughes, was conspicuously absent from the dais throughout the General Session. He missed 37% of floor votes. When we look over the past 9 years, that puts him behind only Rep. Bowman, who was dying; even Sen. Buttars missed fewer votes than Greg Hughes, despite his severe health issues.

To be fair, it’s common for presiding officers (House Speakers and Senate Presidents) to miss floor votes. They leave the floor to negotiate budget compromises and deal with other matters. But still, Hughes is off the charts. As Senate President, Wayne Niederhauser missed 17% of his votes this year. And the previous Speaker, Becky Lockhart, missed 22% of floor votes in 2014 and 24% in 2013. Those are more typical rates for presiding officers.

So when it comes to healthy legislators, Greg Hughes set a new record this year for missing votes (at least looking over the last 9 years). And if Speaker Hughes hadn’t set the record, Sen. Stuart Adams would have; after Bowman-2008, Hughes-2015, and Buttars-2011, Sen. Adams’s 35% absentee rate is the fourth highest we’ve seen in the past 9 years.

Visit http://adambrown.info/p/research/utah_legislature/absent for absenteeism rates for all legislators over the past 9 years.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who sponsored the most bills in 2015?

Sen. Bramble has been the most active bill sponsor for 5 of the past 6 legislative sessions, introducing a total of 158 bills and resolutions over the past 6 years.

The Utah Legislature considered 831 bills during the 2015 General Session, passing 528 of them. That’s a lot of bills to pass in only 7 weeks, especially when you consider that there are only 104 legislators: 75 in the House, 29 in the Senate.

If the 831 introduced bills were spread around evenly, then each of the 104 legislators would have developed 8 bills. Of course, they weren’t spread around evenly. Four legislators introduced only one bill (Greg Hughes, Wayne Niederhauser, Brad King, and Sandra Hollins), and one introduced none (Susan Duckworth). Who, then, drove up the average?

This year’s most active bill sponsor was Sen. Curt Bramble, who introduced 32 bills, passing 28 of them. Those familiar with the Legislature won’t be surprised to see Sen. Bramble’s name at the top of the list. In fact, Sen. Bramble has been the most active bill sponsor for 5 of the past 6 legislative sessions, introducing a total of 158 bills and resolutions over the past 6 years.

Nipping at Sen. Bramble’s heels are Sen. Todd Weiler and Rep. Kraig Powell. Of course, not all active bill sponsors succeed at enacting their ideas into law. Though Sen. Bramble passed 28 of his 32 bills and Sen. Weiler passed 20 of his 29, Rep. Powell passed only 9 of his 23.

The table below lists legislators who sponsored 15 or more bills during the 2015 General Session, sorted by the “introduced” column:

Legislator Party Introduced Passed
Bramble, Curtis S. R 32 28
Weiler, Todd R 29 20
Powell, Kraig R 23 9
Harper, Wayne A. R 22 14
Osmond, Aaron R 22 11
Hillyard, Lyle W. R 19 18
Stephenson, Howard A. R 18 10
Eliason, Steve R 17 11
Urquhart, Stephen H. R 15 9
Jenkins, Scott K. R 15 9

Taking a different tack, the next table lists legislators who passed 10 or more bills, sorted by the “passed” column:

Legislator Party Introduced Passed
Bramble, Curtis S. R 32 28
Weiler, Todd R 29 20
Hillyard, Lyle W. R 19 18
Harper, Wayne A. R 22 14
Osmond, Aaron R 22 11
Dayton, Margaret R 14 11
Eliason, Steve R 17 11
Adams, J. Stuart R 12 11
Dunnigan, James A. R 13 11
Van Tassell, Kevin T. R 13 10
Stephenson, Howard A. R 18 10

Visit http://adambrown.info/p/research/utah_legislature/sponsorship for bill sponsorship data for all legislators (and for years back to 2007).

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Who sponsored the most bills in 2015?

The naysayers: Which Utah legislators vote “no” the most?

I’ve heard Rep. Dan McCay called Dan McNay. It seems his claim to that nickname is secure.

The Utah Legislature governs by consensus. In the Legislature’s 2015 General Session, the typical floor vote saw 92% (House) or 95% (Senate) of legislators voting the same way. Republicans control 84% of the seats.

These high percentages mean that Republicans and Democrats alike generally vote the same way. Party line votes, where a majority of Democrats votes against a majority of Republicans, are rare. In 2015, only 13% (House) and 7% (Senate) of votes divided legislators along party lines.

As a result, it is very, very rare for floor votes to fail. In 2015, only 4% (House) and 1% (Senate) of votes held on the floor resulted in a negative outcome. (All these percentages have been pretty stable for years. You can see charts with data for the past several years here.)

So why are legislators loathe to vote no? There are several reasons. The worst bills are either rejected or watered down in committee. If a divisive bill does manage to get out of committee, chamber leadership has ways of keeping it from coming to the floor for a vote. And even if it does get to the floor, it is likely to be watered down on the floor before the final vote. Taken together, this means that the most difficult bills seldom get to a floor vote unless they’ve been heavily reworked–making negative floor votes rare.

Though the general pattern is consensus, there are still several legislators who seem to relish voting “nay.” I’ll start with the most agreeable legislators–those who voted “nay” less than 5% of the time. It’s not surprising that everybody in this list belongs to the majority party. It’s also not surprising that many majority party leaders show up in this list–after all, leaders who oppose bills have ways of preventing them from coming to the floor at all.

Adams, J. Stuart R Senate 1%
Millner, Ann R Senate 1%
Okerlund, Ralph R Senate 2%
Bramble, Curtis S. R Senate 2%
Niederhauser, Wayne L. R Senate 2%
Weiler, Todd R Senate 2%
Urquhart, Stephen H. R Senate 2%
Thatcher, Daniel W. R Senate 2%
Osmond, Aaron R Senate 2%
Knudson, Peter C. R Senate 3%
Hughes, Gregory H. R House 3%
Stevenson, Jerry W. R Senate 3%
Christensen, LaVar R House 4%
Van Tassell, Kevin T. R Senate 4%
McIff, Kay L. R House 4%
Last, Bradley G. R House 4%

And now for those who vote “nay” most often. It is not surprising that several minority party lawmakers show up in this list. What may be surprising to some, though, is that the most active “nay” voters belong to the majority party. There’s a running joke in the Capitol that the Legislature has three parties: The Democratic party, the Republican party, and the other Republican party. Lists like the one below reveal just how much truth lies behind this gag.

King, Brad D House 11%
Duckworth, Susan D House 11%
Miller, Justin J. D House 11%
Moss, Carol Spackman D House 12%
Peterson, Val L. R House 12%
Poulson, Marie H. D House 12%
King, Brian S. D House 13%
Arent, Patrice M. D House 13%
Hollins, Sandra D House 13%
Dayton, Margaret R Senate 13%
Romero, Angela D House 14%
Thurston, Norman K. R House 14%
Knotwell, John R House 14%
Chavez-Houck, Rebecca D House 14%
Briscoe, Joel K. D House 15%
Greene, Brian M. R House 15%
Roberts, Marc K. R House 16%
McCay, Daniel R House 17%

Incidentally, Rep. Dan McCay just completed his fourth General Session in the Utah House of Representatives. In the past three sessions, he has cast more “nay” votes than any other legislator (of either chamber or party).

When I look back at all the data I have (the past 9 sessions) and average each legislator’s voting across all the sessions she or he has served in, I find that Dan McCay has cast more “nay” votes over his four sessions than any other legislator over the past 9 sessions. I’ve heard Rep. Dan McCay called Dan McNay. It seems his claim to that nickname is secure.

Visit http://adambrown.info/p/research/utah_legislature/nay if you want “nay” voting rates for all legislators or for past years.

Posted in Everything | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The naysayers: Which Utah legislators vote “no” the most?