Chamber rates lawmakers

Published 10:32 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has graded legislators representing Suffolk from A+ down to C in its report card on the 2013 General Assembly session.

The annual report, scoring legislators based on their support for “pro-business” issues, assesses their voting records as measured against the chamber’s legislative priorities.

Singled out for praise was Delegate S. Chris Jones, a Suffolk Republican, who received the chamber’s Economic Competitiveness Award alongside Delegate David Albo and senators Frank Wagner and Janet Howell.


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The award honors legislators who were “instrumental” in developing the transportation bill that, according to the governor’s office, will result in more than $5.9 billion in total revenue for transportation statewide over the next five years.

Jones was the lead conferee on a 10-member conference committee that hashed out a compromise bill. He was considered crucial in crafting and ensuring passage of a measure that many in his party opposed as new taxation.

The Chamber gave Jones an A grade, scoring him at 96 percent.

Also singled out for praise was Republican Sen. Harry Blevins, one of three legislators to receive the chamber’s Excellence in Education and Workforce Training Award.

The trio “sponsored multiple bills to improve teacher quality and provide early intervention services to students in kindergarten, first and second grades who demonstrate deficiencies in reading,” according to the report card.

Blevins, whose district extends into parts of Suffolk, as well as Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, scored an A- with 91 percent.

Carrollton Delegate Rick Morris, another Republican and in the Chamber’s eyes our area’s most reliably supportive state lawmaker of legislation fostering private-sector jobs creation, scored an A+ with 100 percent.

Republican Sen. Tommy Norment was given the Legal Reform Advocate Award along with nine other legislators for efforts to lower the cost of litigation, improve the legal environment and encourage business confidence and investment in Virginia. He also scored an A+ with a 97-percent rating.

The Chamber thought less highly of Suffolk Democrats, including Delegate Lionell Spruill, who earned a B- with 82 percent; Sen. Louis Lucas, scoring a C with 76 percent; and Sen. John Miller, who scored a C-plus at 78 percent.

Delegate Matthew James, another Democrat, however, earned a solid B with an 84-percent rating.

The Chamber determines the weight of each vote in its scoring system by dividing 100 by the total number of votes.

Abstentions for ethical conflicts were not counted in a legislator’s score; however, half a percentage point was docked for not voting.

Republican Speaker of the House William Howell was named the chamber’s 2013 Legislator of the Year.

Other groups also release report cards — including some considered from the opposing end of the political spectrum — but the Chamber’s appears to be the first since the 2013 session ended in February.