Methodology

How Green is Your Attorney General; How Green is Your Governor?

 

How does MLCV track and decide which executive action to score?

We will track and record all of the significant actions of the governor’s office and the AG’s office pertaining to Michigan’s air, land, water, good governance and elections.  These actions include but are not limited to bill signings, vetoes, appointments, executive orders, legal opinions, lawsuit actions, new programs and initiatives, communications, inter and extra-state actions, permit approvals and denials. We give each action a score of either positive, neutral, or negative. All actions by the governor and AG are fair game for scoring, though we will weigh each decision based on its relative importance and impact to Michigan’s air, land, water, good governance and elections.

Generally, MLCV will contact the governor and AG’s team in advance to inform them of our decision to score an executive or administrative action when we anticipate that score being controversial.  MLCV will allow at least 24 hours for a response. In the absence of a response MLCV will reach out to other administration contacts, but move forward with our scoring plans.  

In areas where the administration disagrees with our score, or seeks further clarification, MLCV will reiterate or explain in more detail our reasoning for a given score. For more important or controversial issues and scores, MLCV is open to a formal, scheduled meeting with a representative of the AG and governor’s teams make their case on a given score.   

 

How are the governor and attorney general scored?

Step 1:

We will follow and record all of the significant conservation and good governance related actions of the Executive Office of the Governor, the departments under the charge and steerage of the governor, and the Office of the Attorney General — including opinions, lawsuits, and other legal actions, bill signings, vetoes, appointments, executive orders, permit approvals and denials—and give each one a score of either positive, neutral, or negative.   

Step 2: 

 A positive score will be awarded 1 point (100% or  A), a neutral score will be awarded a .75% (C) and a negative score will be awarded a .5 (50% F) 

Step 3:

On the tool we will explain both the score (positive, neutral, or negative) and the weighted significance (1-4) attached to each score.  Each scored action will have an initial date associated with the action; relevant, subsequent dates will be noted within the narrative explanation.  The impact of the decision on the environment will be scored by color: positive=green, neutral=yellow, and negative=red. Each decision will also be assigned a weight of 1-4 based on the level of environmental impact. A score of 4 is awarded for the most important decisions (weighting descriptions below).  The tool will display both the individual actions scored, and the overall score with an assigned letter grade. 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, etc.

Example:  

Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2 was a significant, positive environmental action.  Her positive action here receives a positive green indicator shading, and she is awarded a numerical score of 1 (100%).  The EO was a moderately significant action and thus it will be assigned a weighted significance of 2. Governor Whitmer’s appointment of Dan Scripps to the PSC also receives a positive action and a score of 1.  This appointment will have a major impact on energy policy decisions for several years to come and is thus weighted at a significance of 4. We can now update her running score after these two positive actions by taking her total numerical score of 6 (1×2 + 1×4 = 6), and divide it by the total possible of 6; she has a 100% score of A after two actions.  To continue the example, if her next PSC appointment is negative, we award her a red negative icon and a numerical score of .5 (50%). Again, this is a very important appointment and has a significance score of 4. She is awarded a failing grade of 50% (.5) for this decision. .5 x 4 (again, a decision of highest significance = 4) = 2; her running overall score is now 8/10 – a B. 

 

What does MLCV do with the governor and attorney general scores?

Our “How Green is Your AG and Governor” pages will be updated regularly following each scorable decision by the governor or attorney general, so the results of newly scored actions will be available to both the public and the governor and AG in near real time. MLCV will use these grades to hold our governor and AG accountable for protecting our environment when their actions are not conservation oriented, but we will also work with their offices to highlight pro-conservation actions.  Public communications include but will not be limited to social media posts of individual scores, press releases, email blasts, targeted in-district constituent education, earned and paid media including press conferences, paid digital, direct mail, and public events. Public and constituent communication should be viewed by decision-makers as both an accountability tool and a pro-conservation messaging opportunity. MLCV will occasionally reach out to the offices of governor and attorney general in order to highlight important actions taken through through additional external communications. We are also open to being approached to elevate pro-conservation messages. MLCV, of course, will use its discretion on which votes to communicate, but we are happy to receive input and guidance from lawmakers, their staff, and constituents.  

 

Legislative 

How does MCLV track and decide which bills to score?

To decide which bills to include in our scorecard, MLCV’s Government Affairs team tracks and weighs which bills are the most relevant to the organization’s mission of protecting our air, land, water, and the elections and good governance policies fundamental to achieving the former. In the case of controversial, high profile bills, GA will garnish input/consensus from MLCV leadership and in certain cases our accountability committee will weigh in. MLCV is also committed to ensuring that these decisions are communicated to legislators and their staff ahead of time.

MLCV will track and publish all relevant committee votes, message on certain committee votes and processes, but will only score full floor votes. 

Multiple bill packages are generally scored as a single bill.  This is typically obvious and votes on these packages tend to be identical by bill, but not always. The nature of a “bill package” can be formal (tie-barred) or informal (moved together by sponsors, committee chairs, and leadership).  On the most important bill packages, that are not tie-barred, and that represent distinct ideas, MLCV reserves the right to score multiple bills. For simplicity and standardization, MLCV scores the first bill when scoring a package that passes. For each bill we track all important floor votes, and score the most important floor vote –  when the decision is actually being made and members are first put on the record. MLCV will not score votes when we have not taken a position or have taken a neutral position. However, MLCV reserves the right to score earlier votes where we supported or opposed, before the bills were amended to a neutral or no position, or if we flip our position entirely based on a substantive change to the bill.     

How are lawmakers scored?

Step 1:

The floor votes of each representative and senator on each bill that MLCV chooses to score will be tallied and divided by the total number of votes to achieve a running average.  That average will be the lawmakers “real time” score. MLCV will defer to the House or Senate journal that is aligned with the date the bill was voted on in the floor for the final, official vote to score. 

Step 2: 

If the senator or representative is excused, per the legislative journal, the word “Excused” will be  placed in the cell where the bill and the legislator’s name meets. If the senator or representative is absent, per the legislative journal, the word “Absent” will be placed in the cell where the bill and the legislator’s name meets. An excused vote does not count against or for the lawmakers total score.  An absent vote counts as an anti-conservation vote because the lawmaker missed an opportunity to vote for the environment.  

Step 3:

Conservation Majority status of an individual lawmaker is determined based on their Lifetime Average, and by their running session score. The criteria includes the following:

 

Yes= 75%-100%

Maybe= 50%-74%

No= 0%-49%

 

What does MLCV do with Legislative Scores?

MLCV’s online scorecard will be updated regularly with new votes, so legislators should expect to see any scored vote and subsequent changes to their percentage grade in near real time.  MLCV anticipates updating new votes on a weekly basis. Votes occurring on Thursday afternoon will be updated by the following Tuesday morning. MLCV will use these grades to hold lawmakers publicly accountable for both pro-conservation and anti-conservation votes.  

Potential public communication on a lawmakers’ votes and grades include, but will not be limited to, social media posts, press releases, email blasts, targeted in-district constituent education, earned and paid media including press conferences, paid digital, direct mail, and public events.  Public and constituent communication should be viewed by decision-makers as both an accountability tool and a messaging opportunity. If a member takes a very difficult, pro-conservation vote lawmakers have the opportunity to contact MLCV and work with us on letting their constituents know. MLCV, of course, will exercise discretion on which votes to communicate, but we are happy to receive input and guidance from lawmakers, their staff, and constituents.