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Brock improves in state survey

Staff and wire reports
SALISBURY — Andrew Brock has been ranked as one of the most effective state Senators of 2011 in a survey released Monday by a nonprofit think tank.
In general, Republicans dominated the top spots in the rankings, but a handful of Democrats now out of power still wield significant influence. Senate GOP members claimed the highest 10 spots and House Republicans 12 of the top 15 in surveys of their respective chambers for the 2011 sessions accumulated by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.
Sen. Andrew Brock, who was ranked dead-last in effectiveness at No. 50 in 2009, ascended to No. 12 in the 2011 survey.
Brock represents Rowan and Davie counties, and he will soon represent part of Iredell as well.
“I feel pretty good about being No. 12 in the whole thing,” he said. “I just try to work hard at it and be as well-informed on as many issues as I can.”
Brock was one of eight state Senators with perfect attendance and one of only four who voted in all 947 electronically-recorded roll call votes last year. He also cast a vote every time in the 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 sessions.
“It’s my job to be there, so I try to do the best job I can to represent the people and vote on every issue,” Brock said.
Rep. Fred Steen also made a considerable leap from No. 81 to No. 22 in the state House, according to fellow Rowan Rep. Harry Warren.
The House member making the largest jump in 2011 was Rep. Marilyn Avila, who soared 90 spots to 21st.
Warren himself is ranked at No. 82, he said, but he doesn’t think much of the rankings, which are based on surveys given every two years to lobbyists, legislators and reporters.
“Rather than popularity contests, I look at end results,” Warren said. “As a first-time legislator, I’ve been vice chair of the government committee and co-chair on immigration. … I was able to get significant legislation through, like ‘Run and You’re Done’ and E-Verify (requiring certain businesses to check new workers’ immigration status).”
Brock said the results for each chamber typically depend on which party is in control. Center director Ran Coble said the rankings also are determined by other factors, including length of services, chairmanships and personal skills.
“Being a member of the political party which has a majority in the Legislature is one of four factors that historically lead to a higher effectiveness ranking — but only one factor,” Coble told the Associated Press.
Steen did not return calls for comment from the Post by press time Monday.
The findings of GOP ascendancy in the report were not surprising given that party members held majorities simultaneously in the House and Senate for the first time since 1870. Rank-and-file Republicans soared and Democrats fell in the rankings as General Assembly chairmanships and other key positions changed hands.
Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, was ranked No. 1 in effectiveness in the House, while the top Senate spot went to President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. Their Democratic predecessors — Joe Hackney in the House and Marc Basnight in the Senate — held No. 1 rankings in the 2009 survey.
Now as minority leader, Hackney, D-Orange, ranked 13th among the 120 representatives in the House effectiveness rankings.
Basnight resigned from the Senate before the 2011 session began.
Five other House Democrats who voted for the Republican-penned budget — canceling out Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto — ranked among the top 33 in the chamber, led by 14-term Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, at No. 7. Tillis announced in September that Crawford had been appointed co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Eleven-term Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus, one of a few Republicans who held a committee chairmanship in 2009, was ranked No. 7 — the same spot that he held two years ago.
Survey respondents ranked Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, 11th among 49 senators ranked, down from his No. 6 position in 2009. Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, was next among Democrats at No. 14.
The 2011 Senate survey did not include Sen. Jim Forrester, R-Gaston, who died in October.
For more information on the effectiveness rankings, visit the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research website at www.nccppr.org.

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