A new N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation report shows Republican lawmakers scored an average of 91.95% on business-related decisions during the 2019 legislative session. Democrats averaged 57.9%, and the General Assembly as a whole averaged 77.15%. 

NCFREE based its 2019 ratings on 12 recorded Senate votes and 13 recorded House votes. The bills covered outdoor advertising laws, changes to how small businesses buy health care for their workers, the N.C. Farm Act, the Map Act, electric co-op rural broadband services, regulatory reform, and tax reduction. 

The ratings are based on surveys of more than 300 statewide business leaders, business trade association executives, and government affairs professionals. They rate each legislator based on their personal experience and the percentage of time that lawmaker supported the state’s overall business climate. Respondents only rated lawmakers they had contact with during the session. 

The objective and subjective components are mixed in a 2:1 weighted average, with a .25 bonus for every time that legislator sponsored a bill with a desired “Aye” vote in the ratings metric. 

“We approach the legislative session asking one key question: Does this vote support business and advance free enterprise in the state?” Anna Beavon Gravely, NCFREE executive director, said in a news release.

In the Senate, Republicans eclipsed Democrats by a long shot. Almost all 29 Republican senators, except for two, out-rated Democrats, with scores ranging between 99.3 and 87.2. 

The top 10 slots went to:

  • Sen. Paul Newton, R- Cabarrus
  • Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond
  • Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance
  • Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth
  • Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Carteret
  • Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham
  • Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg (now resigned) 
  • Sen. Harry Brown, R- Jones
  • Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Duplin
  • Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon

Democratic senators’ scores ranged between 75.4 and 26.3, with Don Davis, D-Pitt, snagging a 90.4. 

In the House, Republicans’ scores ranged between 99.1 and 67.6. Democrats scored between 87.9 and 33.5. 

The top 10 were:

  • Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne
  • Rep. Larry Potts, R-Davidson
  • Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett
  • Rep. Chris Humphrey, R-Lenoir
  • Rep. Jerry Carter, R-Rockingham
  • Rep. Mark Brody, R-Union
  • Brenden Jones, R-Columbus
  • Kevin Corbin, R-Macon
  • Julia Howard, R-Davie
  • Wayne Sasser, R-Cabarrus

A rating of 70 or higher indicates what NCFREE considers “strong support of free enterprise.” A rating between 70 and 55 suggests an “occasional” support of free enterprise.

Both Republicans and Democrats have seen ratings increase over the past decade. Between 2009 and 2019, Republican scores rose from 83.4% to 91.95%, and Democrats’ scores increased from 44.62% to 57.9%. The General Assembly as a whole rose from 64.39% to 73.79%.

Nonpartisan NCFREE, which advances business interests in the state, conducts a similar report after each bi-annual “long session” involving a budget vote in the General Assembly.