POLITICS
03/17/2011 11:25 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Nikki Haley Rolls Out Lawmaker 'Report Card' System

(Reuters) - Governor Nikki Haley, a Tea Party favorite elected last fall, rolled out her "report card" for the South Carolina Legislature at a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the College of Charleston.

The Republican governor said she will grade legislators from A to F depending on the level of support they show for her agenda.

The town hall meeting, one of several Haley is holding throughout the state, felt more like a pep rally with a large "We Are The Movement" sign on stage, a slogan-filled video and the governor's calls for applause.

Haley told the audience of about 400 people that her intent is to give voters what they want, including instituting roll call voting for lawmakers and allowing Medicaid to lower health care provider rates.

"Bashing legislators is not the intent of what this is supposed to do," she said.

But Haley's grading idea hasn't been warmly received by lawmakers.

"Who are they issuing the report card to, my wife or my mom or what?" said Republican Representative Chip Limehouse. "I vote with the best interests of my district in mind."

Democrats in the state's House have introduced legislation that would require lawmakers to grade the governor's performance.

"I don't think anybody should be a puppet for the governor," said Democratic Representative John King, a sponsor of the bill. "We are a voice for our constituents and not for the governor."

Karl Kurtz, a political scientist with the nonprofit and non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, said governors typically keep a mental checklist of how legislators handle their priority issues.

"If that's the case, then why shouldn't they publish it?" he said.

"On the other hand, it has some negative images," Kurtz said. "This is the sort of thing that is done by narrow special interest groups. You'd think that the governor as the leader of the whole state would be above that."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)

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