Virginia House Republicans are touting their pro-business ratings by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce after the organization released its legislative report card.
When averaged out, House Republicans scored 96.8 out of 100 and House Democrats scored 70.8. The Chamber, which lobbies on behalf of business, ranks each member on how well their votes align with bills that the Chamber believes will lower the cost of doing business. It assigns values of eight points, four points and two points to legislation, depending on how much impact it has, and then averages the number out.
“Republicans have worked hard to ensure that our Commonwealth is the best place for people to live, work, and do business,” House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said in a news release. “I’m proud to see the ratings of our Republican majority in this report card. Whether it’s our investments in education or our work to remove outdated or unnecessary regulations, we’ve put Virginia’s economy first.”
Not everyone gives a lot of weight to the Chamber’s ratings on business. Steve Haner, a senior fellow for state and local tax policy for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, told The Center Square that people should use caution when using these ratings. The institute is a free-market think tank based in Richmond.
The Chamber does not disclose the specific bills it ranks on its report card and Haner said that its positions on what is good for business are likely skewed by their membership. For example, some industry-specific legislation that helps one of the member’s businesses may not actually be good for the economy as a whole.
“The value of the Chamber’s blessing (or lack thereof) on individual candidates would carry more weight, in my opinion, if we could see the list of votes used for the tally,” Haner said.
Haner served as the Chamber’s vice president for public policy from 2003 to 2005, when the Chamber did not have a scorecard. He had Newport News Shipbuilding, a major member of the Chamber, as a client for the following 12 years, but cut affiliations less than two years ago.