Based on votes cast so far, the 2017 Legislature is more likely to oppose student-focused education, economic freedom and the constitutional principles tracked in the 2017 Kansas Freedom Index. Of the 158 pieces of legislation tracked this year, only 23 have final votes thus far, but the preliminary results are the lowest ever recorded in the six years the Kansas Freedom Index has existed.
The Kansas Freedom Index is published by KPI and is the product of nonpartisan analysis, study, and research; it is not intended to directly or indirectly endorse or oppose any candidate for public office. The Freedom Percentage represents the relative position of a legislator’s score on a number line of the minimum and maximum score, with the percentage indicating proximity to the maximum score. An index of 0 percent would indicate a legislator always votes against the issues measured and a score of 100 percent would reflect always voting for such issues.
This is the first year, albeit incomplete, with average scores for Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate below 50 percent. 2017 is also the first time there are more legislators voting 75 percent or more against Freedom Index issues than there are legislators voting 75 percent or more for those issues.
In the House, 28 Republicans are scoring 75 percent or better but 33 of them are at 25 percent or worse; all 40 Democrats are scoring 25 percent or worse. The Senate has 8 Republicans at 75 percent or better but 15 are at 25 percent or worse; all 9 Democrats are at 25 percent or worse.
Results from previous years found that support or opposition to freedom issues do not follow party lines, and that’s also reflected in the 2017 preliminary scores. Republicans Pete DeGraaf and Francis Awerkamp are tied for first place in the House at 93 percent and Republican Stephanie Clayton is tied with Democrat John Alcala for last at 4 percent. In the Senate, Republicans Rob Olson and Mary Pilcher-Cook are tied for first at 93 percent and Republican Dinah Sykes is in last place at 7 percent.
Western Kansas Leans Left
In a somewhat shocking departure (at least from conventional thinking), preliminary
results show legislators from western Kansas being much less inclined to take conservative constitutional positions that those in eastern Kansas and some urban areas. The color spectrum on these maps ranges from deep red for the lowest scores to bright green for the highest scores.
The trend is particularly noticeable in the Senate, with a lot of deep red and dark orange in the west and a lot of dark green in the east. The differences are slightly less pronounced in the House, but still quite noticeable.
2017 Preliminary Freedom Index – Kansas Senate
2017 Preliminary Freedom Index – Kansas House
Scores will be updated throughout the remainder of the 2017 Session as final votes are cast on more legislation. Some bills with no preliminary votes are likely to be added as action is taken and there could also be new bills introduced that would be scored. It’s also possible that some votes recorded could be replaced with subsequent votes. For example, a bill passed by one chamber could go to conference if not identically passed by the other chamber, in which case the vote scored would be the one that ultimately resolves the matter.