As usual, our methodology is to rate the bills, regardless of how the individual legislators voted on them. Bills are rated from -2 (most hostile to liberty) to +2 (most favorable). Associated with the rating is a comment indicating why the rater rated the bill as he did.
The spreadsheet is generated with a custom Perl script, new this year. The script assigns votes for (1) or against (-1) a bill on third reading to each legislator. Raw data come from the digests for each bill on the Legislative Services Office (LSO) web site. In the case of the 2010 session, the raw data come from the 2010 summary. The spreadsheet applies the bill rating to each vote to obtain a rating for each legislator. These are then summed, and ranked.
Similarly, the spreadsheet sums sponsorships and accumulates them into the rankings.
We indicate whether a bill is signed into law or not, but do not rate the governor.
We provide an outcome code for each bill:
We provide the LSO's summary (which are sometimes opaque and more technical than the casual citizen would like) in comments. We also provide some of the LSO's fiscal impact statements.
The budget is handled in a special way, in budget (even numbered) years. Each house starts with a budget bill, usually SF1 and HB1. These are identical "mirror" bills. They amended and voted in parallel in each house. They are then reconciled in committee, and the results submitted back to the two houses. Thus only the House has a third reading vote on HB1, and only the Senate on SF1. The spreadsheet reflects that special handling.
We make an effort to indicate fiscal impact of a bill. We scrape the LSO's Fiscal Impact statements. If possible, we apply one of several indicators:
The comments in the fiscal impact row may contain more information.
The Liberty Index is not intended to be an exact ranking. For one thing, it only looks at third readings, not at amendments. In a budget session, a two thirds vote in the house of introduction is required to even introduce a bill. Clearly these votes affect the fate of a bill.
Once again, it is interesting to see the results, as members of the legislature seem to track consistently from previous years, despite the changeover in bill raters. The conclusion seems to be that, whatever the differences in political philosophy, people apparently have a fairly consistent understanding of what liberty is.