How They Voted
This week’s edition presents the annual Missed Votes Report showing how many votes lawmakers missed during 2019.
Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 state representatives set a record in 2019 by missing just 768 roll call votes according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org.
In the previous year legislators missed a total 1,671 votes, during a year when there were far more roll call votes held (2,088 votes in 2018 vs. just 748 votes in 2019).
This year, just one state Senator (out of 38) and three House members (out of 110) missed more than 50 votes in 2019, compared to nine Senators and three Representatives who exceeded that level in 2018.
The lawmakers who missed the most votes this year also had reasonable explanations: Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), also an Army Reserve officer, missed 51 votes reportedly due to military duty. Detroit Democrat Sen. Stefanie Chang had the second highest missed votes total in the Senate, all of which occurred in the weeks after she had a baby in June.
The leading 2019 vote-misser in the House was Rep. Larry Inman(R-Traverse City), who missed 124 votes as he was being indicted, prosecuted, tried and ultimately cleared in federal court of bribery charges brought by the FBI. He was followed on the list by Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint), who missed 74 votes while running for mayor of the city he represents.
A year earlier in 2018, House members had missed a combined total of 1,337 votes (out of 1045 roll call votes held), but this was skewed higher by the unprecedented behavior of one-term Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit), who accumulated 599 votes when she stopped coming to work in August after being defeated in a Senate primary election.
Excluding purely procedural votes, the Senate voted 370 times in 2019 (vs. 1,043 in 2018) and the House voted 378 times (vs. 1,045 times in 2018) for a total of 748 roll call votes by the entire Legislature (vs. 2,088 in 2018).
The number of missed votes has fallen dramatically since the 2001-2002 Legislature, which was the first session covered by MichiganVotes.org. Over that two-year period, individual Michigan lawmakers failed to cast a roll call vote 21,162 times (7,241 votes in 2001 and 13,741 in 2002).
Most missed votes occur when serious family or personal issues require an absence of an entire day or longer. Sometimes other demands within the legislative process can call a lawmaker off the floor during a vote.
“Legislators are people too,” McHugh said. “Voters shouldn’t jump to conclusions when their representative or senator misses a lot of votes. They should ask, and in the majority of cases the lawmaker has a good reason and is eager to explain.”
The missed votes report is just a small piece of MichiganVotes.org’s capabilities. The site describes every bill, amendment and vote by every lawmaker. These are searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. The full Missed Votes report can be viewed at www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx
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