MARICOPA — A Pinal County lawmaker has been awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Legislator of the Year award from Americans for Prosperity for his contributions to help working Arizonans.

State Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, who recently won re-election in Legislative District 11, was the recipient of the award for his work during his most recent term. LD11 spans from northern Marana through Arizona City, parts of Casa Grande and Eloy and to Maricopa.

“Each year Americans for Prosperity-Arizona honors state legislators, local government officials and outstanding citizens for their tremendous efforts to advance economic freedom and prosperity,” said Tom Jenney, director of Americans for Prosperity in Arizona.

The criteria for the Legislator of the Year award is based solely on the voting record of the legislator in question and whether those efforts helped remove undue taxes from citizens, regulatory burdens from businesses or helped taxpayers improve their lives by AFP’s standards

Bills are weighted based on how much taxpayer money is at stake — more money equals more weight in the grade, according to Jenney. Each legislator as well as Gov. Doug Ducey has a scorecard given by AFP every year that can be found online.

“My record and all the bills I’ve authored and sponsored and the way I’ve been voting on bills since being in the Legislature are, I think, some of the reasons I was selected,” Smith said.

In his most recent term Smith worked on bills involving economic development to lowering taxes, improving school choice and transparency in government, all bills that are heavily favored by AFP.

While technically a nonpartisan group, AFP, which was founded by the Koch brothers in 2004, concentrates on fiscal responsibility and reducing regulations, which typically favors a conservative agenda

Smith has won other awards throughout 2016, including one from the Department of Defense.

The bill he credits that award to was a piece of legislation that would allow veterans to get college credit for their work experience in the military. For example, someone who worked in Army engineering for many years would have the opportunity to test out of entry-level engineering classes.

Looking ahead to his next term, Smith will be the chairman of the Commerce and Public Safety committees, which look over everything in the state regarding job growth, economic development, law enforcement and border security.One bill that he is working on now involves performance-based pay for teachers in Arizona.

“I think that teachers are the most important thing to help our kids learn so I think that if teachers can get paid more for good work, it would be better for our kids and communities,” Smith said.

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