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Kansas lawmakers MIA during OT session

By   /   May 31, 2013  /   2 Comments

Sen. David Haley
(D-Kansas City)

(UPDATE 9 a.m. 6/1/13: includes new remarks from Rep. Marvin Kleeb)

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE — We all get it, overtime is a drag.

Lawmakers want to go back to their families after a long session. Taxpayers want the legislature to shut down for the year and stop driving up its $45,000 per day bill. Spring is in full swing and summer is knocking at the door, but with important issues left unresolved, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.

With that in mind, some legislators might want to get their hearing checked.

Sen. Les Donovan
(R-Wichita)

In all, 44 Kansas lawmakers have missed at least one day of the 2013 overtime session. While 27 officials have missed only one day since May 24, a total of 17 have skipped out on two or more days.

But five officials – two senators and three representatives – comprise a group that has missed-out on more than HALF of the overtime days put in by the state legislature. Sen. David Haley and Reps. Ross Jennings and Shanti Gandhi have been absent for three of the last four overtime days, while Sen. Les Donovan and Rep. Marvin Kleeb have checked out entirely.

Rep. Marvin Kleeb
(R-Overland Park)

Haley defended his absence (technically, they’re all listed as “excused absences”), stating that with the current stalemate between the two chambers, he can better-serve his constituents by spending time in his district rather than passing time at the Capitol, though he stands at the ready to return when a vote is needed.

“I think that my constituents appreciate it, the ability for me to be in both places during this overtime session that we’re going in,” Haley said. As an example, the Kansas City Democrat said he chose to spend this morning at a prayer breakfast in his district than attend the Senate’s relatively-fruitless gathering. He conceded that he is able to do so because he can to commute to Topeka, a privilege most other lawmakers do not enjoy.

Kleeb contacted Kansas Watchdog Saturday morning to explain his four-day absence from the House chambers. Kleeb said his wife underwent chemotherapy in early January, and as a reprieve for their family they planned a week-long vacation starting May 24.

“Quite frankly, family needs to come first, and especially your marriage,” Kleeb said, noting they had scheduled the vacation assuming the legislature would finish in 80 days. He was present at the Capitol Friday.

Rep. Russ Jennings
(R-Lakin)

Rep. Shanti Gandhi
(R-Topeka)

Ross, Jennings and Gandhi did not return calls for comment from Kansas Watchdog.

Donovan made it clear last week that he would be leaving for vacation at the end of the 90 day session, regardless of whether or not things were wrapped up.

“Sorry, folks. I planned this a year ago,” Donovan said May 23.

 

Now, without further delay, here’s the full Kansas legislative truancy list:

Two days missed

Rep. John Barker (R-Abilene)
Rep. Carolyn Bridges (D-Wichita)
Rep. Marshall Christmann (R-Lyons)
Rep. John Edmonds (R-Great Bend)
Rep. Mario Goico (R-Wichita)
Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Assaria)
Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Tyro)
Sen. Mike Peterson (R-Wichita)
Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee)
Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Wichita)
Rep. Sharon Schwartz (R-Washington)
Rep. Brian Weber (R-Dodge City)

One day missed

Sen. Steve Abrams (R-Arkansas City)
Sen. Pat Apple (R-Louisburg)
Sen. Elaine Bowers (R-Concordia)
Rep. Rob Bruchman (R-Overland Park)
Rep. Steve Brunk (R-Wichita)
Rep. Larry Campbell (R-Olathe)
Rep. Sydney Carlin (D-Manhattan)
Rep. Willie Dove (R-Bonner Springs)
Sen. Jay Emler (R-Lindsborg)
Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita)
Rep. Daniel Hawkins (R-Wichita)
Rep. Phil Hermanson (R-Wichita)
Rep. Don Hill (R-Emporia)
Rep. Kasha Kelley (R-Arkansas City)
Sen. Dan Kerschen (R-Garden Plain)
Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe)
Sen. Jeff Longbine (R-Emporia)
Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover)
Sen. Carolyn McGinn (R-Sedgwick)
Sen. Jeff Melcher (R-Leawood)
Rep. Robert Montgomery (R-Olathe)
Rep. Tom Moxley (R-Council Grove)
Sen. Robert Olson (R-Olathe)
Rep. Marty Read (R-Mound City)
Rep. Scott Schwab (R-Olathe)
Sen. Greg Smith (R-Overland Park)
Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence)

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at @muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!

 

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Travis Perry is an investigative reporter covering news and politics for Watchdog.org's Kansas bureau. Before joining the organization, Travis graduated cum laude from Washburn University and cut his teeth as news editor for the Osawatomie Graphic, where he received numerous awards from the Kansas Press Association.

  • Renee Slinkard

    It is simple. Pass the budget by getting rid of CCS and $440 million on illegal immigration funding.

  • adastraperapathy

    Common Core actually doesn’t cost the state much than it would for the state to develop and implement standards completely independently.

    It would actually probably cost the state more to do that, or else the state might end up creating standards that do not measure up to other states.

    Also, how, in fact does the state fund illegal immigration $440 million?

    Does that include all of the money that undocumented workers provide to the state in terms of economic productivity in sparsely populated parts of the state that otherwise wouldn’t have enough workers?