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Handful of Kansas lawmakers outpace all others for missed votes

By   /   June 11, 2013  /   1 Comment

Rep. Mike Peterson

Rep. Mike Peterson

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE — Seven members of the Kansas House of Representatives missed more votes during the 2013 legislative session than the other 118 House lawmakers combined.

In all, Reps. Mike Peterson, Leslie Osterman, Tom Sawyer, John Wilson, Jerry Henry, Broderick Henderson and Blaine Finch missed a total of 675 roll call votes between Jan. 14 and June 2. By comparison, all other members of the House missed a collective 617 votes.

Rep. Leslie Osterman

Rep. Leslie Osterman

Here’s a rundown of just how many votes the seven House lawmakers have missed:

  • Mike Peterson (D-Kansas City) – 212
  • Leslie Osterman (R-Wichita) – 163
  • Tom Sawyer (D-Wichita) – 107
  • John Wilson (D-Lawrence) – 53
  • Jerry Henry (D-Atchison) – 52
  • Broderick Henderson (D-Kansas City) – 47
  • Blaine Finch (R-Ottawa) – 41

Osterman explained his absence was the result of a heart attack

Rep. Tom Sawyer

Rep. Tom Sawyer

he suffered mid-March, which landed him in the hospital intensive care unit for 47 days following a quadruple bypass surgery. Even so, Osterman said he made every effort to fulfill his legislative duties.

“I did come back once or twice for a couple votes after I got out of the hospital, but it almost finished me,” Osterman said, noting that he returned specifically to vote on the budget.

Wilson initially believed the figure was incorrect, stating that it must have been some kind of mistake. However, House Chief Clerk Susan Kannarr confirmed the data was accurate.

Rep. John Wilson

Rep. John Wilson

“One of the points of confusion that members often have is that votes missed on days where they have an excused absence still count as votes missed for statistical reporting purposes,” Kannarr said. “There may be a very good reason a member was gone (ie. health issues, family emergencies, etc.) but the votes were still missed.  If one of the days that are missed happens to come at a deadline time in the session, one missed day can add up to a lot of votes.”

Wilson said he missed the bulk of the votes because of a previously-scheduled family obligation, but noted that “most of

Rep. Jerry Henry

Rep. Jerry Henry

the votes on that day were non-controversial in nature and passed by pretty substantial margins.”

Henry, too, said his missed votes were because of family matters. The representative said his oldest son was in the hospital for several days during the session.

“I decided to spend that time with him and make sure he was okay,” Henry added.

Peterson said his missed votes were also because of family medical issues.

Rep. Blaine Finch

Rep. Blaine Finch

Rep. Broderick Henderson

Rep. Broderick Henderson

Sawyer, Henderson and Finch did not return calls for comment from Kansas Watchdog.

We also requested similar information from the Senate, however, secretary Diane Minear said they wouldn’t be available until Senate leaders have had a chance to review the data for accuracy.

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.

  • jewels

    These men are paid very well, to be on the job, (or off the job). Where I worked you didn’t show up, you didn’t get paid. After your sick leave is used up, you no longer get paid. When we hire you to do a job, you need to do YOUR job. You work for us. I don’t give a damn how the vote goes, you weren’t there.

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