- Allen Turner
Jones, Britt get high rankings from business group on votes
The two members of Columbus County’s legislative delegation have received high rankings for their votes in the 2017 long session of the General Assembly by a pro-business special interest group.
Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Columbus, tied for sixth most business-friendly among the 120 House members, while Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, ranked 11th in the 50-member Senate in a scorecard put together by the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation (NCFEF).
Britt could not be reached for comment on the rankings, but Jones was appreciative. “I’ve been a small business owner for over 18 years,” Jones said Friday. “I know the opportunities in our state to improve our business climate as well as anyone in the General Assembly. Having a pro-business attitude when looking at legislation helps the individual and creates more opportunities for everyone.”
Jones ranked nearly 10 points higher than did his predecessor, former Rep. Ken Waddell, a Democrat, in the group’s last ratings. Jones received a 94.4 rating on a scale of 1 to 100, compared to Waddell’s 85.0 two years ago. Britt did even better compared to his predecessor, getting a 93.1 rating compared to a 54.2 rating given former Sen. Jane Britt, a Robeson County Democrat.
The average rating for House members was 86.0, while senators scored 88.5 on average. Fair Bluff native Bill Rabon, a Republican who represents the counties of Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender in the Senate, finished ahead of both Jones and Britt with a score of 95.7.
Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican, got the highest rating in the House at 96.3. Guilford County Democrat Pricey Harrison got the lowest rating in the House, 23.7. In the Senate, Sen. Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican, got the highest rating of 95.8, while Wake County Democrat Jay Chaudhuri received the lowest rating in the upper chamber, 17.2.
In rural areas, like the ones represented by Jones and Britt, senators averaged 83.7 and House members averaged 79.9. In both the House and Senate, members from rural areas scored higher than their suburban and urban counterparts.
Jones attributed his high ranking in part due to his experience as a businessman prior to going to the legislature. “I have had the responsibility of signing both the front and back of checks. This certainly makes a huge difference when you’re voting on business-related items in the General Assembly.” He added, “I’m really humbled to receive such a high score from NCDED, particularly to be the highest-ranked freshman legislator and tied for sixth overall in the House. I’ve had an open door to any and all comers to my office, and that is reflected in these rankings.”
The ratings were based on how legislators voted on 15 specific measures in the House selected by the NCFEF, which also determined what was considered a “favorable” vote and what was considered “unfavorable.” Senate ratings were based on votes on 14 different measures.
The NCFEF, which describes itself as a “non-partisan, nonprofit organization that conducts impartial, objective research and analysis on candidates, campaigns, voter attitudes and demographic changes that impact North Carolina’s electoral landscape,” said their assessment of legislators was based on confidential input from more than 400 business leaders, business trade association executives and government affairs professionals representing a diverse cross-section of business interests.
NCFEF said they had determined that a rating of 70 or higher indicated “a legislator can be counted on – both in votes cast as well as a general disposition on business issues and in their approach to legislative duties – to consistently exhibit strong support of free enterprise principles.”