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HELENA - A group called Montana Conservatives intends to keep an ongoing scoreboard of how legislators vote on issues throughout the 2009 session.

Rob Natelson, the Missoula law professor who is president of Montana Conservatives, said the group is teaming up with the Montana Policy Institute of Bozeman to produce Project TAB (Taxpayer Advisory Bulletin). It will be on the institute's Web site, www.montanapolicy.org .

Most interest groups issue their scorecards after the legislative session adjourns and assigns grades to lawmakers based on how they voted on issues deemed important to the organizations.

Montana Conservatives issued a scorecard after the 2007 Legislature. Based on its popularity, "we felt we should take it to the next level for 2009," Natelson said.

"TAB will give greater transparency to the legislative process and will help Montanans provide more effective input while the votes are still being cast," Natelson said.

He said the ratings will focus on fiscal issues, along with a number of other public policy issues, such as regulation, competition, corporate welfare, educational choice, personal freedom and government growth.

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The site will rate lawmakers on whether they vote to increase the size and scope of state government, Natelson said, or whether they will support traditional Montana values of individual freedom and responsibility by limiting government growth.

Both Montana Conservatives and Montana Policy Institute are educational organizations that do not lobby on behalf of specific interests, industries or legislation, the press release said.

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