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Statehouse Beat: Session batting averages

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For some time, I disregarded requests to bring back the legislative batting averages; i.e., ranking legislators who had the highest and lowest rates of success in getting bills they introduced passed in the legislative session.

Then I saw where Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, was quoted as saying he considered himself a statesman, and not a politician. I assume he was being self-effacing, since one might question how he could be a statesman when only three of the 27 bills he co-sponsored passed this session - and none of the four bills on which he was lead sponsor.

(Ironically, one of the bills that passed repeals a restriction in current law that bars beer retailers from selling more than five gallons of beer to an individual [HB3145].)

That piqued my curiosity to crunch the numbers for the 2013 regular session.

The averages are an imperfect tool, since high percentages are not necessarily proof of good legislators or good legislation. The system also tends to favor those in leadership positions, as well as the House speaker, Senate president, and minority leaders, by virtue that they traditionally co-sponsor the governor's bills.

(For purposes of this survey, I've excluded passage of pro forma bills, including appropriations, rule-making review, tax code updates and claims against the state.)

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House of Delegates

Top 25 in the House: 1. Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, 29 bills sponsored, 11 passed, .379; 2. Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, 33-12, .363; 3. Bob Ashley, R-Roane, 21-6, .286; Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, 46-13, .283; 5. Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, 72-20, .278; 6. Phillip Diserio, D-Brooke, 46-11, .239; 7. Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, 87-19, .218; 8. Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, 51-11, .216; 9. Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, 52-11, .211; 10. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, 38-8, .210; 11. Adam Young, D-Nicholas, 24-5, .208; 12. Ronnie Jones, D-Hancock, 35-7, .200; 13. Bill Hartman, D-Randolph, 46-9, .196; 14. Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel; 36-7, .194; 15. Dale Stephens, D-Cabell, 57-11, .193; 16. Peggy Smith, D-Lewis, 58-11, .190; 17. Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, 102-19, .186; 18. David Walker, D-Clay, 27-5, .185; 19. David Perry, D-Fayette, 78-13, .167; 20. Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, 85-14, .165; 21. Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, 61-10, .164; 22. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, 86-14, .163; 23 (tie). Daniel Poling, D-Wood, 64-10, .154, Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, 64-10, .156; 25. Rupert Phillips, D-Logan, 83-12, .144.

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Bottom 25 in the House: 1. (7-way tie) Bill Anderson, R-Wood, 14-0, .000,Jim Butler, R-Mason, 22-0, .000, Scott Cadle, R-Mason, 25-0, .000, Marty Gearhart, R-Mercer, 48-0, .000, John O'Neal, R-Raleigh, 9-0, .000, John Overington, R-Berkeley, 41-0 .000, and Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire, 61-0, .000. (Rowan might get top "honors" in having the most bills sponsored - 61 - with none passed.)

8. Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, 137-1, .007; 9. Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, 65-1, .015; 10 (tie). Anna Border, R-Wood, 54-1, .018; Gary Howell, R-Mineral, 55-1, .018; 12. John Shott, R-Mercer, 53-1, .019; 13. Ron Walters, R-Kanawha, 51-1, .020; 14. Troy Andes, R-Putnam, 38-1, .026; 15. Michael Folk, R-Berkeley, 35-1, .028; 16. Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley, 34-1, .029; 17. Karen Arvon, R-Raleigh, 31-1, .032; 18. Allen Evans, R-Grant, 30-1, .033; 19. Jeff Eldridge, D-Lincoln, 174-6, .034; 20 (tie). Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, 26-1, .038, Bill Romine, R-Tyler, 26-1, .038; 22 (tie). Randy Smith, R-Preston, 23-1, .043, Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh, 46-2, .043; 24. Carol Miller, R-Cabell, 45-2, .044; 25. Mike Mannypenny, D-Taylor, 123-6, .049.

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Senate

Top 10: 1. Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, 38-9, .237; 2. Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, 70-16, .228; 3. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, 22-5, .227; 4. Health and Human Resources Chairman Ron Stollings, D-Lincoln, 135-25, .185; 5. Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, 111-20, .180; 6. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, 39-7, .179; 7. Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, 97-17, .175; 8. Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam, 56-9, .161; 9. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, 34-5, .147; 10. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, 41-6, .146.

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Senate Bottom 10: 1. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, 55-3, .054; 2. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, 33-2, .062; 3. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, 53-4, .075; 4. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, 64-5, .078; 5. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, 167-14, .084; 6. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, 58-5, .086; 7. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, 23-2, .087; 8. Greg Tucker, D-Nicholas, 65-6, .092; 9 (tie). Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, 100-10, .100; Chris Walters, R-Putnam, 40-4, .100.

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Finally, some observations: Sponsoring lots of bills generally hurts one's average, since it's difficult to successfully "work" dozens of bills through the legislative process. Often, legislators will introduce bills at the request of constituents, with no intent of actually pursuing the legislation.

Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, who announced her pre-candidacy for Senate this week, had two of 38 bills passed (.053). The current senator in the 17th District, Brooks McCabe, was 11 of 84 (.131) ... Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, was one of the few legislative leaders not among the top averages. He had 16 bills pass, but sponsored 124 (.129).

Meanwhile, Ron and Chris Walters have the dubious distinction of being the only father-son combo on the lowest averages lists.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com

or 304-348-1220.

 


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