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Ezzell gets high marks from free-market think tank

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An Albuquerque-based free-market think tank has ranked state Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, as the New Mexico legislator whose voting record this session most aligned with the group’s limited government ideals.

Ezzell — Republican caucus chair in the New Mexico House of Representatives — has represented her Chaves County district in the House since 2005 and had “the most pro-taxpayer voting record” of any lawmaker during the 65-day session, according to a press release from the Rio Grande Foundation.

“With progressive Democrats in complete control of New Mexico government, there were a lot of bad bills moving around the Roundhouse and not many good bills. When it came to voting for limited government and personal responsibility, Rep. Ezzell stood apart,” Paul Gessing, president of the Foundation stated in the release.

Ezzell garnered 54 on the group’s Freedom Index vote tracking system out of a perfect 100 score, the highest of any lawmaker this session.

Fellow Roswell Republican representatives Phelps Anderson and Greg Nibert received 51 and 50 respectively while House Minority Leader state Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, scored 49.

In the Senate, state Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, received a score of 49, while Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales, ranked 42 and fellow Republican Sens. Bill Burt of Alamogordo and Gay Kernan of Hobbs scored 40 and 35 respectively on the index.

State Rep. Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque scored 41 on the index, the highest of any Democrat. The lawmaker who scored the lowest at 21 was Joy Garrett, also a Democrat from Albuquerque.

Gessing said the Foundation ranked lawmakers based on how they voted on about 900 bills that were either taken up by individual committees or voted on by the full House or Senate.

Points are added or deducted based on whether a bill added a new government regulation or program, limited the ability for individuals or businesses to engage in economic activity without government interference, increased spending, or if it is thought to conflict with the U.S. and New Mexico constitutions, Gessing said.

If a bill did any of those things, points were subtracted if a legislator voted for it and added if a lawmaker voted against it.

Some of the bills that were ranked included legislation that increased the minimum wage, invalidated local right-to-work ordinances, the budget, and transitioning New Mexico to carbon-free electricity.

However, Gessing said there were many smaller pieces of legislation that the scores were based upon.

Gessing said typically lawmakers in the Roswell area rank fairly high on the index.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.