At the April 22, 2010 meeting of the LEA Board, it was decided to post a description of how reports are prepared. First, it can serve as an example of how all citizens can employ their constitutional responsibility to hold representatives accountable to the will of the people. Second, there are often misconceptions that LEA’s report is influenced by certain members of the legislature. Understanding the report preparation process should help dispell such misconceptions.
The Minnesota Legislative Evaluation Assembly (LEA) is a citizens’ organization that evaluates votes on bills in the Minnesota State Legislature to score Senators and Representatives on their performance in adhering to the LEA Credo.
CREDO: The Legislative Evaluation Assembly of Minnesota (LEA) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established to keep the citizens of Minnesota informed of both important legislation and the voting performance of each Senator and Representative in the Minnesota State Legislature. LEA bases its evaluation on the traditional American principles of constitutionalism, limited government, free enterprise, legal and moral order with justice and individual liberty and dignity. LEA encourages the use of the material in its Reports, in whole or in part by any group or individual.
- Areas Assigned: The LEA Board members choose areas of study so that there will be an evaluation of many areas of government. Unlike many other organizations that score on particular topics (e.g., family, taxes, human rights), the LEA tries to rate the entire spectrum of legislative activity according to its credo.
- Bill and Vote Selection: Members select bills and votes based on their ability to highlight votes related credal concerns. Preferably the bill has at least one vote in each house. On occasion, bills with only a vote in one house are scored. A vote could be the final vote, or it could be a vote for an amendment that highlights a concern of LEA. This is particularly true of omnibus bills that are very hard to score because they contain both needed legislation and pork.
- Writing a Draft: After the author of a bill write-up has studied and evaluated the bill, he/she will prepare a draft according to the LEA write-up style (see previous reports as an example). It will contain the bill’s primary authors, a brief description of the content, how well it fits with the LEA Credo and why, whether LEA favored a “Yes” or “No” vote, and how each house voted.
- Wordsmithing the Draft: The LEA Report Advisory Committee will meet to go over prepared drafts. The bill’s author will present the case for its inclusion in the report and defend the position taken. Other members of the committee will help in rewriting the writeup to make it as clear, descriptive, and concise as possible. A Wordsmithed item will be held as a potential candidate for inclusion in the report until it is time to compile the report.
- Final Selection: As the deadline for completion of the report nears, the board will meet to establish a priority among the write-ups and to ensure a wide range of bills are included. The layout team preparing the report includes as many bills as possible up to the space limitation of the report (in recent years this is usually 15-20 bills.
- Scoring: Selected members meet to tally the votes of all legislators in a table. Percentages are calculated using the actual votes cast and whether they match the vote LEA favored. A deduction of 2% percentage points is taken if the legislator is absent from the vote.
- Legislative Review: The preface to the LEA report contains a legislative review that presents an overview of the session from LEA’s perspective. This may include things such as major challenges the legislature faced, fiscal soundness of the government, general trends in relation to upholding the credo, mention of items of interest that did not get scored, and interactions with the governor.