Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998
Selection of Criteria for the Scorecard
(January 5, 1999) Tech Law Journal rated all 435 Representatives and all 100 Senators on five criteria: Internet Tax Freedom Act, encryption, H1B visas for high tech workers, securities litigation reform, and membership in the Internet Caucus. Every Representative and Senator was rated on a 0 to 100 scale. 0 indicates that the legislator did not take the pro tech position on any of the five criteria. 20 indicates that the legislator took the pro tech position on only one of the five criteria. And so forth, up to 100, which indicates that the legislator was pro tech on all five criteria.
Notes on Methods
TOP TEN LISTS
|Senate Top 10
House Top 10
Urban vs. Rural
Age and Seniority
Many important issues never came to a roll call vote on the floor of the House or Senate, making it hard to rate legislators on those issues. For example, the encryption bills never made it to the floor. Other bills do make it to the floor, but are passed by unrecorded voice votes. Examples of this include the Internet Tax Freedom Act in the House, and the WIPO bills in both houses. Also, many important bills are rolled into a much larger omnibus packages of bills. A vote on one of these packages tells little about how someone feels about just one element of the package. Indeed, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, passed at the end of the regular session of the 105th Congress in October, included much of the high tech agenda for 1998. In it were the Internet Tax Freedom Act, the digital signatures bill, the Child Online Privacy Protection Act, and the H1B visa bill.
There are many more votes in committees, but these only provide information about the committee's members, and provide little basis for rating the entire Congress. Nevertheless, Tech Law Journal found and used five criteria to rate members of the House and Senate. The five were as follows:
1. Internet Tax Freedom Act. This was perhaps the most important tech issue in 105th Congress. The House passed a bill by voice vote on June 23, 1998, and then passed the Senate version of the bill as part of the huge Omnibus Appropriations Bill in October. Neither of these events provided any basis for scoring members of the House. Instead, the Scorecard utilized sponsorship of HR 1054. One quarter of the members of the House co-sponsored this bill. There is a problem on the Senate side also. Its version was passed as a single bill by an overwhelming vote, and again as part of the Omnibus Appropriation Bill (again overwhelmingly). The real fight took place in a series of votes on amendments which defined the bill. The Scorecard used the roll call vote on a key amendment to extend the duration of the Internet tax moratorium.
2. H1B Visas. This was one of the key tech issues of 1998. High tech companies which could not fill positions sought to increase the annual cap on Section H1B visas for foreign high tech professionals. Organized labor fought the bills. While the H1B bill was made a part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill, both the House and Senate passed earlier versions by roll call votes. These roll call votes were used in the Scorecard.
3. Encryption. The ability to use and export strong encryption products is fundamentally important to both the U.S. computer and software industry, and to the development of electronic commerce and the Internet. No encryption bill made it to the floor of the House or Senate. However, there were two major encryption bills which obtained large numbers of co-sponsors: HR 695 (Safety and Freedom through Encryption Act) and S 377 (Promotion of Commerce On-line in the Digital Age Act). The co-sponsorship lists for these two bills was used in the Scorecard.
4. Securities litigation reform. Proponents of the computer and Internet industry sought to pass legislation to limit the number of frivolous class action lawsuits brought against companies, often solely because of the volatility of their stock prices. These suits particularly affected high tech and biotech companies. The Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act was passed by roll call votes in both the House and Senate. These votes were also included in the Scorecard.
5. Internet Caucus. This was not a vote. This is a caucus open to all members of the House and Senate who have an interest in promoting the Internet. Membership in this Caucus was also used in the Scorecard.
It would have been desirable to have included more criteria. The problem was the absence of meaningful criteria that could be used to evaluate everyone.
For detailed notes and explanations of how the Scorecard was calculated, see, Notes on Methods Used to Calculate Scorecard.