As lawmakers convene in Raleigh today, two conservative groups are releasing ideological rankings.
Think of it as a partisan naughty or nice list. And in this case nice means conservative and naughty means liberal.
Civitas Action, a nonprofit political advocacy group, categorizing lawmakers based on their votes on legislation. Lawmakers that support "free-market economic policies, limited government and personal responsibility" get higher conservative scores and "effectiveness" ratings.
According to Civitas, the most conservative House members were Reps. John Blust of Greensboro and Tim Moffitt of Asheville with scores each of 98 percent. In the Senate, top marks went to Sen. Harris Blake of Pinehurst who notched a perfect conservative score. On the other end, Rep. Earline Parmon of Winston-Salem and Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Chapel Hill were rated as the most liberal.
In its analysis, Civitas' Francis DeLuca reported that the legislature turned strongly conservative after Republicans took the helm in 2010, compared with scores from the previous three years. Overall, the conservative score for the House went from 32 percent to 62 percent and the Senate jumped even more from 27 percent to 76 percent.
DeLuca determined that the large contingent of freshmen in both chambers led the charge, rating at 91 percent conservative in the House and 97 percent in the Senate. With the GOP takeover, the Democrats are more conservative as well, the analysis found. House Democrats moved from 11 percent to 25 percent and Senate Democrats shifted from 7 percent to 38 percent.
"When they are presented with more conservative bills, as represented in this year's session, they are inclined to vote more conservatively, regardless of party," DeLuca said.
The American Conservative Union, a Washington-area group that rates members of Congress, will hold a news conference this morning in Raleigh to announce its first ratings of North Carolina lawmakers. The two organizations did not collaborate on their ratings system, officials said.
Orr joins Poyner Spruill
Former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr is joining the law firm of Poyner Spruill.
Orr will work in the firm's Raleigh office and practice in the areas of general litigation and legislative and regulatory advocacy.
Earlier this month, Orr stepped down from his position as founding executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. There he was an outspoken critic of the state's practice of using incentives to get companies to locate in North Carolina.
He also led several projects aimed at strengthening the state constitution through public education and legal action. Under his leadership, the institute successfully sued for public records and challenged public financing of political campaigns.
Before establishing the institute, Orr spent almost 10 years as a member of the Supreme Court and eight years on the Court of Appeals. The Hendersonville native was initially appointed to the bench by Gov. Jim Martin.
Push for pre-K
The Covenant with North Carolina's Children is holding a news conference this morning to push for additions to the state budget for pre-kindergarten, Medicaid and other spending matters.
Republican leaders have shown no interest in adding more pre-K slots, despite persistent calls to do so. GOP leaders have promised to take care of a Medicaid shortfall estimated at $139 million, but have not offered specifics on how to do it.
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