Absenteeism declined in 2017.
My previous two posts had some good news about the 2017 Legislature: Vetting time improved a little, giving the public more time to see most bills, and bipartisanship remained the order of the day. But now it’s time for a more dubious distinction: Calling out those who missed the most votes.
First, the usual caveats. In a 45-day session with hundreds of bills to consider, it is inevitable that legislators will need to leave the floor at times. There are literally times near the end of the General Session when leaving the floor for an urgent restroom break can cause a legislator to miss several votes. So all legislators can be excused for missing a handful of votes.
Second, if a legislator experiences a health issue or attends a funeral for a day, that can also cause several missed votes–especially if these issues arise toward the end of the session.
Third, legislative leaders and those with responsibility over the process (i.e. the Rules Chair) or the budget are expected to miss many votes toward the end of each session.
Of course, these aren’t the only reason that legislators miss votes. In the 2017 Legislature, 10% of Senators were absent from the average floor vote. This is actually an improvement over recent years; we haven’t seen better since 2007. The House also improved, pushing average absenteeism down to only 5%. So absenteeism declined in 2017. Here’s the trend for each chamber:
In the House, the almost perfect attendance awards go to Representatives Hall, Kennedy, and Westwood, each of whom missed only 0.3% of votes. At the other end are Representatives Ray (13.8%), Gibson (16.0%), Noel (16.6%), Wilson (20.6%), and finally Hughes (32.5%). Other than Paul Ray, these other 5 are all in chamber leadership.
In the Senate, former Representative and freshman Senator Gregg Buxton had the best attendance, missing only 2.7% of votes, followed by Senators Don Ipson (3.4%) and Jani Iwamoto (3.7%). I’ve always found it curious that even the best-attending Senators miss so many more votes than the best-attending Representatives. At the other end are Senators Hillyard (15.0%), Anderegg (17.0%), Hemmert (18.7%), Niederhauser (25.7%), and Stevenson (29.7%). Only 2 of these 5 are in leadership–Niederhause and Stevenson. The next 2 (Anderegg and Hemmert) are new to the Senate this year.
You can find absentee rates for all legislators who served in 2017 here.
Next up: Who voted “nay” the most?