North Dakota United (NDU) has introduced a new Legislative Scorecard to inform its members about votes on public education and service-related bills.
The North Dakota Legislature: where laws are born. Comprehensive information about each legislative session is available on the Legislature’s website, but it’s not always easy to navigate. Which had some NDU members asking, how did my lawmaker vote?
“It was really hard to find that information in a fast and easy way,” said Amber Haskell, special education teacher at the Therapeutic Learning Center in Grand Forks.
To address this, NDU’s legislative organizing team developed the Legislative Scorecard. It assigns lawmakers a grade from 0%-100% based on how closely their votes aligned with the best interests of public employees and educators.
“Now we have a tool that can demonstrate, ‘hey, do you actually, as a legislator, support public workers, public education, and higher education?’” said Andy Winter, organizer for North Dakota United.
“We have the pages for the legislators and how they voted. We also have individual pages for each of the bills that we are talking about. So, you can go to that page, see what the bill is about, and it’ll include, as well, whether the bill passed or failed and where we stood on it. And then, you can see just below how every single member voted on that bill in particular, too,” said Ali Hoffman, legislative campaign organizer for North Dakota United.
“That’s how we’re going to be able to make a difference in who we get in office and how we can rally around different things that we’re supporting in order to motivate our members to get involved,” said Amber.
As for the types of issues the scorecard covers…
“The private school voucher bill,” said Andy.
“The different book bans that were introduced,” said Ali.
“The bill to close the ND PERS pension,” said Andy.
“We also looked at the different lunch policies that were introduced as far as free lunch and the vote to end lunch shaming,” said Ali.
The organizing team hopes this will spur member involvement, which is exactly what earned public educators and employees some big wins last legislative session.
“Teacher voices really do matter. Representative [Anna] Novak was on the House Education Committee, and voted for the voucher bill because that was what she thought was right. But she actually received an email directly from one of her son’s teachers telling her the ramifications of the bill. And she read that letter on the House floor and changed her vote,” said Ali.
With that in mind, NDU members like Amber Haskell say, they plan on consulting the scorecard as they look to the future.
“Having this information easily accessible, we can go to members or members can look it up very easily themselves and say, should we vote for somebody who’s really pro public education, or somebody who’s literally voting against public education?” said Amber.
Andy says they plan to update the scorecard in future legislative sessions. To try the scorecard out for yourself, visit https://www.reportcard.ndunited.org/.