2016 Legislative Grades

legscorecardimageMost Senators and Representatives Receive Poor or Failing Grades

HEAL Utah today issued legislative grades for the 2016 State Legislative Session, evaluating the voting record of the state’s Representatives and Senators.

Letter grades were assigned based on voting records on a dozen separate bills that directly affect air quality, renewable energy, utility policy and water development.

2016 was a fruitful year for assessment, says the groups Senior Policy Associate Ashley Soltysiak, pointing to several hugely consequential bills that the Legislature considered: from the bill to spend $53 million on the Oakland coal terminal (SB 246), another potentially awarding hundreds of millions to huge water development projects (SB 80), one that reduces utility oversight (SB 115) and a bill that mandates cleaner water heaters (HB 250.)

“With so many important votes in both Houses, Utahns can really judge this year how much their legislators are concerned about clean air, clean energy and other important environmental issues,” says Soltysiak. “And unfortunately for many, the answer is, ‘Not very much.’”

The average grade for a member of the Utah Senate was a C-, while for the House it’s just a D+. Six Senators and 30 Representatives receives grades of “F.”

“We hear a lot of rhetoric from legislators saying that they want to clean up our air and protect our the health of our families,” says Soltysiak. “But when you take a cold, hard look at their voting records, the data tells a different story for many.”

Below are HEAL’s grades, followed by a description of our methodology and a quick rundown of the dozen bills scored.

For the full votes of every legislator, click here.

HEAL Utah 2016 Legislative Grades

How did your Senator and Representative Vote on Key Environmental Issues?

Methodology and list of bills below

Senator Number Letter
Dabakis, Jim 100% A
Escamilla, Luz 100% A
Hillyard, Lyle W. 100% A
Iwamoto, Jani 100% A
Harper, Wayne A. 92% A-
Shiozawa, Brian E. 92% A-
Davis, Gene 90% A-
Mayne, Karen 82% B-
Vickers, Evan J. 80% B-
Knudson, Peter C. 79% C+
Bramble, Curtis S. 78% C+
Millner, Ann 78% C+
Christensen, Allen M. 73% C
Jenkins, Scott K. 73% C
Okerlund, Ralph 70% C-
Stephenson, Howard A. 70% C-
Stevenson, Jerry W. 70% C-
Thatcher, Daniel W. 70% C-
Weiler, Todd 70% C-
Niederhauser, Wayne L. 67% D
Van Tassell, Kevin T. 64% D
Urquhart, Stephen H. 63% D-
Adams, J. Stuart 60% D-
Fillmore, Lincoln 56% F
Hinkins, David P. 50% F
Madsen, Mark B. 50% F
Henderson, Deidre M. 45% F
Jackson, Alvin B. 42% F
Dayton, Margaret 40% F
Representative
Arent, Patrice M. 100% A
Briscoe, Joel K. 100% A
Chavez-Houck, Rebecca 100% A
Edwards, Rebecca P. 100% A
Eliason, Steve 100% A
Hemingway, Lynn N. 100% A
Hollins, Sandra 100% A
King, Brian S. 100% A
Moss, Carol Spackman 100% A
Poulson, Marie H. 100% A
Powell, Kraig 100% A
Romero, Angela 100% A
Wheatley, Mark A. 100% A
Cox, Fred C. 92% A-
Hall, Craig 92% A-
Hutchings, Eric K. 92% A-
Duckworth, Susan 91% A-
Dunnigan, James A. 91% A-
Spendlove, Robert M. 90% A-
Ward, Raymond P. 90% A-
Ray, Paul 89% B+
Cutler, Bruce R. 83% B
DiCaro, Sophia M. 83% B
King, Brad 83% B
Kennedy, Michael S. 82% B-
Redd, Edward H. 82% B-
Chew, Scott H. 80% B-
Pitcher, Dixon M. 80% B-
Sagers, Douglas V. 80% B-
Sanpei, Dean 80% B-
Tanner, Earl D. 80% B-
Anderson, Johnny 75% C
Barlow, Stewart 75% C
Christensen, LaVar 75% C
Draxler, Jack R. 75% C
Handy, Stephen G. 75% C
Nelson, Merrill F. 75% C
Snow, V. Lowry 73% C-
Cunningham, Rich 67% D
Perry, Lee B. 67% D
Daw, Brad M. 64% D
Wilson, Brad R. 63% D-
Gibson, Francis D. 60% D-
Hawkes, Timothy D. 60% D-
McIff, Kay L. 60% D-
McKell, Mike K. 58% F
Westwood, John R. 58% F
Froerer, Gage 57% F
Hughes, Gregory H. 57% F
Coleman, Kim 56% F
Dee, Brad L. 55% F
Peterson, Val L. 55% F
Stanard, Jon E. 54% F
Peterson, Jeremy A. 53% F
Brown, Melvin R. 50% F
Christofferson, Kay J. 50% F
Last, Bradley G. 50% F
Noel, Michael E. 50% F
Owens, Derrin 50% F
Sandall, Scott D. 50% F
Schultz, Mike 50% F
Grover, Keith 46% F
Fawson, Justin L. 45% F
Webb, R. Curt 45% F
Greene, Brian M. 44% F
Knotwell, John 43% F
Stratton, Keven J. 43% F
Ivory, Ken 42% F
Lifferth, David E. 42% F
Oda, Curtis 42% F
Thurston, Norman K 36% F
McCay, Daniel 33% F
Anderegg, Jacob L. 30% F
Ipson, Don L. 30% F
Roberts, Marc K. 18% F

Methodology:

  • Legislators were judged on whether they voted in favor of bills that HEAL and other environmental groups supported and whether they voted against bills that we opposed. Our positions are noted below.
  • Committee and floor votes were each counted and weighted equally. For bills that didn’t make it out of committee, therefore, only one vote could be considered while most bills had two.
  • In the Senate, only the Senate 3rd Reading Calendar votes were considered, to represent the final vote of the legislator.
  • Absences and abstentions did not impact the score.
  • Because of varying committee assignments, and absences, legislators did have a varied number of voting opportunities. (Nearly all cast between 10 and 16 votes.) The grades are a percentage of how many votes each made. Whether a legislator voted “right” on 8 of 12, or 10 of 15, each got the same grade. (67 percent.)

Letter grades were assigned using the following standard rubric.

A   93.33-100 A – 90-93.33 B+ 86.67-90 B   83.33-86.67 B- 80-83.33 C+ 76.67-80 C   73.33-76.67 C- 70-73.33 D+ 66.67-70 D   63.33-66.67 D-  60-63.33 F   0-60

Description of Bills Considered:

HB 87 Clean Fuel Conversion: Handy/Weiler

Provides a tax incentive for  the conversion of vehicles to cleaner burning alternatives, like natural gas. Initially, it has included a $1,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, but that will now end in 2016, due to the large fiscal note.  SUPPORT

HB 237 Income Tax Contribution for Clean Air. Arent/Bramble

Establishes the Clean Air Fund and allows individuals to voluntarily contribute via their tax return. All monies contributed to this fund will go to the Utah Division of Air Quality to fund clean air programs, education, grants, monitoring, etc. SUPPORT

HB 250 Air Quality Amendments. Redd/Jenkins

Requires that all water heaters sold and installed in the state of Utah, after July 1, 2018 will be be lower emitting. When fully implemented, this will have the impact of reducing NOx emissions (a dangerous criteria pollutant) by 2,700 tons per year. SUPPORT

HB244 Independent Energy Producer Amendments Gibson/Harper

Legalizes Power Purchase Agreements for solar leasing in Utah — helping to make solar more affordable for a greater number of customers. SUPPORT

HB356 Taxation of Solar Energy Devices Knotwell

Aimed to create a sales and use tax exemption for residential solar customers. SUPPORT

SB 49 Statute of Limitations on Environmental Code Violations Escamilla/Chavez-Houck

Increases the statute of limitations to prosecute companies that violate their Division of Environmental Quality permits from one year to two years.  SUPPORT

HB130 Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Amendments Arent/VanTassel

Allows for the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations and energy storage technologies by authorizing local governments to issue bonds as a financing mechanism. SUPPORT

SB80 Infrastructure Funding Amendments Adams/Perry

Designates $33 billion to fund water infrastructure projects across the state. Sets aside $36 million sales tax dollars every year to fund the Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Development. Draining these watersheds will greatly increase regional dust problems and negatively contribute to air pollution.  OPPOSE

SB115: Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act Adams/Snow

Omnibus bill which makes comprehensive regulatory changes to Utah’s regulated monopoly, Rocky Mountain Power. This precedent diminishes future oversight by the Public Service Commission.  It provides some small incentives for clean energy charging stations, provides funding for clean coal research, and effectively ends the utah solar lottery. At it’s heart, this bill transfers risks from shareholders to ratepayers and removes an important incentive for the utility to accurately predict fuel costs in the future. OPPOSE

SB246 Funding for Infrastructure Revisions Adams/McKell

Provides $53 million in funding for a coal export terminal, in Oakland California. Money is granted from the Mineral Lease Account and then funneled through state coffers to remove federal strings which likely would have otherwise prevented the transaction. OPPOSE

HB385 Petroleum Vapor Recovery Amendments Eliason/Bramble

Establishes criminal penalties for petroleum truck drivers who do not recapture volatile organic carbon (VOCs) vapors during the filling of storage tanks. SUPPORT

HB242 Alternative Energy Development Tax Amendments Handy/Adams

Helps “green minded” businesses obtain a more renewable energy mix by providing a state sales tax exemption for the purchase of clean energy through a utility tariff. SUPPORT

3 Comments:

  1. Thanks for your succinct summaries. I can’t remember everything I read in the
    Trib. about the session, and you cover the subject that interests me most, i.e.,
    our planet.

  2. Christine Ackerson

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  3. Thanks this is very helpful I love it very informative very smart I guess it’s okay to put Raymond Ward’s sign on my yard I got a 90%. Ray visited my house we chatted for about 10 minutes he liked my 28 solar panels and my all-electric Nissan Leaf car

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