Chances are if you watch KTVB, you’ve heard of the Idaho Freedom Index. Our thorough legislative scorecard has become a hot topic for friends and foes alike. However, some members of the media have misrepresented the Index and its purpose. To clarify the record, here’s what the Freedom Index is and what it is not.
Is the Freedom Index meant to be an endorsement or rejection of any political candidate?
The Freedom Index is an aggregation of the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s nonpartisan analysis and rating of bills voted on by the Idaho Legislature during each legislative session. It is not intended to serve as either an express or an implied endorsement or rejection of any candidate for public office. As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Idaho Freedom Foundation does not endorse or oppose any candidate for public office.
IFF recognizes there are inherent limitations in judging the qualifications of any legislator on the basis of a selected number of votes, and legislative activities such as performance on committees and constituent services are not reflected in the scores. The same disclaimer applies for the Idaho Spending Index and the Idaho Education Index.
What does the Freedom Index measure?
Since 2012, Freedom Index analysts have examined and scored hundreds of bills based on 12 metrics. Freedom Index analyses present a different viewpoint from what lawmakers typically hear from lobbyists and special interests in the Capitol. Each bill scored by Freedom Index analysts receives a positive or negative score, and this can show the public how lawmakers vote each legislative session.
How are Freedom Index scores calculated?
The scores for every bill rated by Freedom Index analysts are compiled to determine the possible vote score. Because the House and Senate may not hear the same number of bills, the possible vote score for each chamber could be different.
Each legislator receives points based on how he or she votes on a bill rated by IFF.
When a legislator votes for a bill that IFF has rated positively, or votes against a bill that IFF has rated negatively, the value of that bill’s rating is added to the legislator’s total score.
If a legislator votes against a bill that IFF rated positively, or for a bill rated negatively, then the total possible value of that rating is subtracted from the legislator’s total score.
For example, if a legislator voted for a bill that IFF rated +1, that legislator would have one point added to his or her total score. Voting against the bill would result in one point being subtracted from the legislator’s score.
If a legislator voted for a bill that IFF rated -1, one point would be subtracted from the legislator’s overall score. If a legislator voted against this bill, one point would be added to his or her total score.
If a legislator is absent from a vote, the legislator’s score is neither increased nor decreased. Overall, missing a vote has half the impact on a legislator’s total score. A legislator who missed every vote would receive a Total Score of 0 and would stand at 50% on the Idaho Freedom Index.
To determine a legislator’s total score, add the legislator’s score to the possible vote score. Divide this number by twice the possible vote score (2 x possible vote score), then multiply by 100 to determine the percentage.
Voting percentages are also assigned a letter grade. View the letter grade breakdown here.
Do Freedom Index ratings ever change?
Once issued, Freedom Index ratings rarely change. As a general rule, Freedom Index analysts will change a rating only if lawmakers amend the bill. When this happens, any change in the bill’s rating or analysis will be noted for full disclosure and transparency.
What happens if the Legislature amends a bill?
Some lawmakers will receive two scores for that piece of legislation. The first score reflects the legislator’s vote for the original version, and the second score reflects the legislator’s vote for the amended bill.
Do Freedom Index analysts take written or oral testimony into account when reviewing bills?
No, Freedom Index analysts do not consider public testimony when rating bills. Testimony often contains subjective viewpoints and claims that do not necessarily speak to the text of the bill.
Are Freedom Index ratings partisan?
No, Freedom Index ratings are nonpartisan. The Freedom Index focuses solely on the underlying policies in each bill. Freedom Index analysts consider the merits of every bill, regardless of the sponsor’s political affiliation. View our rating metrics here.
Who can I contact with questions about the Freedom Index?
The Idaho Freedom Foundation welcomes feedback about the Freedom Index. If you believe that there is an error in a voting record or that a legislator’s score is not properly reflected on the website, please contact us at Media@IdahoFreedom.org.