Local legislators continue to fare well in the Conservation Council of North Carolina's annual scorecard, which rates state legislators on how they voted on environmental issues.
All four Orange County representatives -- Reps. Verla Insko and Joe Hackney and Sens. Howard Lee and Ellie Kinnaird -- received a perfect score of 100 percent on the scorecard, which was released last week. All four also received perfect scores in 1999.
The scorecard is based on the fraction of pro-environment issues that legislators supported, as well as the environmentally damaging issues that they voted against.
This year's scorecard shows an overall decline in the environmental voting record of both the House and the Senate. The House as a whole dropped to 69 percent from last year's 79 percent rating, while the Senate dropped to 85 percent from 90 percent.
The conservation council selected the issues on which the ratings were based.
"Those were the biggest votes on the environment," said Nat Mund, the council's governmental relations director.
Insko, D-Orange, said her voting record reflects the concerns of her constituents.
"I think the environment is very important to the citizens of Orange County," Insko said. "It is one of my top priorities and a very big issue in this state."
Hackney, D-Orange, also said environmental issues are important in the Triangle area.
But Hackney said he has mixed feelings about the scorecard.
"It's useful for the public to know how the legislature votes," he said. "But it doesn't always accurately reflect what someone is working on behind the scenes."
Mund also said the overall drop in scores in both the Senate and the House does not necessarily indicate a less environmentally concerned legislature.
He said part of the drop can be attributed to a change in the type of environmental issues before the legislature.
"This year's legislation is more controversial," Mund said.
Two of the more contested issues raised during the most recent session were legislation that would have banned billboards from a section of Interstate 40 and a bill concerning the inspection of automobiles for dangerous emissions.
Despite the decline, Mund remained positive about the scorecard's results. "The scores are still fairly high," he said.
Mund also expressed a desire for even more proactive environmental legislation in the coming sessions.
He said, "We are pleased with the votes, but not that pleased with the legislation."
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