Here’s the simple mathematics of representative government: Arizona taxpayers pay for lawmakers to show up and vote on every bill in the Legislature. Now here’s the flaw in that equation: Lawmakers get paid whether they show up or not.
Unfortunately, many Arizona residents were underrepresented at the Capitol during last year’s regular legislative session. It was a dismal performance by the 21 lawmakers who failed to show up for one out of every five floor votes.
There were many excuses: late-night votes, last-minute calls to the floor, the fact that their votes wouldn’t change the final outcome, etc. It’s true that the session was marked by poor planning, rules changes and an inability to gain consensus on many substantial bills. It’s also a fact that most lawmakers have jobs outside the Capitol, and many had to travel long distances to Phoenix from their homes in outlying areas.
Still, they were elected for a singular purpose that in some cases went unfulfilled. If they don’t vote, their constituents may as well have checked a box on the ballot for “nobody.”
In the Senate, two Democrats from Phoenix – Sen. Debbie McCune Davis and Sen. Ken Cheuvront – topped the list of missed votes. The geography is significant; they live much closer to the Capitol than Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen, who has to drive about six hours roundtrip from her home in Snowflake. Allen, by the way, didn’t miss any floor votes.
Rep. Rich Crandall, a Mesa Republican, missed 254 of the 382 House votes. Did you catch that – Mesa, a Phoenix suburb. In comparison, Republican Rep. Nancy McClain has a seven-hour roundtrip from Bullhead City and didn’t miss any votes.
For the same reason it’s important that voters recognize who is not representing them, they also should take note of those who make it a priority to be in chambers when it matters.
Eleven representatives and seven senators voted on every single measure that reached the floor. All of them were Republicans, and five of them were freshmen.
Last week, we published a list of lawmakers who missed the final vote on measures during the 2009 session (it didn’t include missed votes in committee). But we failed to call attention to those who had perfect attendance on the floor.
So, here’s a list of lawmakers who deserve a gold star – not necessarily for the way they voted, but for rising above the rest to make sure their constituents had a seat at the table when the state’s newest laws were crafted:
Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson (District 30)
Rep. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley (District 4)
Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista (District 30)
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills (District 8 )
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale (District 9)
Rep. John McComish, R-Phoenix (District 20)
Rep. Nancy McLain, R-Bullhead City (District 3)
Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix (District 6)
Rep. Andy Tobin, R-Phoenix (District 1)
Rep. Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix (District 10)
Rep. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler (District 21)
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake (District 5)
Sen. Bob Burns, R-Peoria (District 9)
Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa (District 19)
Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley (District 11)
Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa (District 18)
Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott (District 1)
Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix (District 7)