(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.
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.
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.
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)
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