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Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:28am

Session Scorecards Have Some Influence

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce released a report card Monday grading state lawmakers on the chamber's top nine priorities in this year’s General Assembly. When special interest groups release lawmaker rankings, they can drive votes and donations, experts say.

The scorecard is about holding lawmakers accountable to the business community, said Georgia Chamber president and CEO Chris Clark. He said some members will turn the grades into action this election year, including a business owner he heard from this week.

“He says, ‘I’m going to use this scorecard. If they don’t have a passing grade from the business community, I’m not going to support them locally, I’m not going to give them campaign donations and I’m not going to go vote for them,'" Clark said. "I think that’s effective.”

Columbus State University political scientist Greg Domin said some voters will use scorecards like this to educate themselves, but they’re still mostly focused on the economy.

“Basically where folks vote are their pocketbooks. How am I doing personally? How is my family doing personally? Am I better off than I was four or even two years ago. And that will ultimately be the driver,” Domin said.

He said expect to see grades like this from the chamber, environmental groups and others to play a role on the campaign trail this year.

“It’s a chance for candidates to close the deal voters in terms of what they support, and so it’s an educational tool,” Domin said.

Clark said the scorecard is useful to voters, but it also helps lawmakers.

“They’re looking at 200 different bills; it’s hard to figure those out," he said. "Which ones are important? Which ones are really going to make a difference for my businesses back home?”

This is just the second year for the Chamber’s legislative scorecard. Clark said they saw other organizations using them to effectively influence policy.

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