Mass. business group's scorecard tells 'tale of two chambers'

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BOSTON >> A major business association gave Senate President Stan Rosenberg its lowest score this election cycle, and criticized the Senate's work in the current legislative session.

"While the House of Representatives and Speaker Robert DeLeo successfully forged consensus on important measures such as wage equity and energy, the Senate hewed to a more progressive, ideological approach that produced a steady stream of bills with the potential to harm the Massachusetts economy," the Associated Industries of Massachusetts wrote in a scorecard released Monday that was based on a dozen recorded votes.

Known as AIM, the business group is influential on Beacon Hill. Its alumni include the secretary of administration and finance and the head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. AIM's scorecard arrives between this year's last formal session and the fall elections - starting with a Thursday, Sept. 8 primary.

A lack of competitive races has ensured that most incumbents will return to the Legislature for the 2017-2018 session in January.

At 12 percent, Rosenberg tied with Sen. Benjamin Downing, a fellow Democrat who is not running for re-election and who often voted against the interests of AIM this session. They were not outliers. A "staggering" 40 percent of the Senate scored 18 percent or lower, AIM said, and only five senators received grades above 50 percent.

The group's take on the 2015-2016 session was lambasted by George Bachrach, a former senator who heads up the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

"AIM remains lost in the 19th century...increasingly out of touch with [its] own members and state government. If you believe in the innovation economy then every so often you need to support innovation....energy from wind and solar and hydro. The era of fossil fuel is the past...only AIM and the utilities think it's the future," Bachrach wrote in an email.

Each lawmaker was graded on individual votes. For most of the Senate votes Rosenberg, who usually presides over the chamber, did not vote.

AIM preferred the House's more lenient restrictions on non-compete clauses in employment contracts, opposed a Senate wage-theft bill, and disagreed with a law expanding incentives for solar energy.

DeLeo scored 75 percent, having voted in favor of every measure AIM looked at in the House, including three measures AIM wanted members to vote against. AIM opposed a new Lyme disease insurance mandate, the solar law, and advancement of a constitutional amendment establishing a surtax on high earners - each of which advanced or became law. In all, 126 state representatives scored 75 percent or better.

AIM opposed a new Lyme disease insurance mandate, the solar law, and advancement of a constitutional amendment establishing a surtax on high earners - each of which advanced or became law.

Sen. Don Humason, a Westfield Republican, received the highest score in the Senate at 59 percent, and none of the six Senate Republicans scored lower than their Democratic counterparts.

The highest score in the House was Second Assistant Minority Leader Betty Poirier, a North Attleborough Republican, at 92 percent. Many House Democrats scored just below Poirier.

AIM scrapped its individual scorecards in 2014, concluding that "the complexity of the lawmaking process and the sometimes arcane rules of each chamber make it nearly impossible to render a fair judgment on the votes taken by individual legislators."

The group heaped praise on both branches in 2012 when former Senate President Therese Murray received one of the highest scores in the Senate.

This year, AIM said it was unable to grade senators on non-compete agreements and an omnibus energy bill because they were passed on voice votes.


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