Few lawmakers achieve perfect attendance, voting records

Paulina Pineda//May 25, 2018

Few lawmakers achieve perfect attendance, voting records

Paulina Pineda//May 25, 2018


Among the accomplishments retiring Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, can list on his résumé is a nearly impeccable attendance and voting record during his 16 years in the Arizona Legislature.

Yarbrough attended all 64 days lawmakers were required to work during the 116-day 2018 legislative session, and also punched in a vote for every measure the chamber voted on.

The 2018 session marks the ninth consecutive year that Yarbrough has had perfect attendance. He has only missed two days since 2004, when Legislation Online Arizona began tracking attendance records — once that same year and another day in 2009. Data was not available for 2003, Yarbrough’s first year in office.

But most of his colleagues can’t boast such a perfect record.

Only 19 state lawmakers, or 21 percent, made it to work every day and also registered a vote on 100 percent of the measures that went up on the board during the 53rd Legislature’s second regular session.

In total, 26 members attended work on all of the days they were required. Thirty-four pushed their buttons each time there was a vote.

The Legislature only calculates attendance on days the chambers actually do work, which is typically  Monday through Thursday. And a day at the Legislature starts when the chambers gavel in and ends when the chambers adjourn for the day, even if work spills over to the next calendar day. For example, budget discussions, which members began on May 2 and which extended into the early morning hours of May 3, only counted as one day, as did the last day of the session, which ended at 12:26 a.m. May 4.

Some days lawmakers vote more than once, and some days there are no bills up for a vote at all.

Of the 15 House and Senate leaders, only four members, House Majority Leader John Allen, R- Scottsdale, Speaker Pro Tem TJ Shope, R-Coolidge, Assistant Minority Leader Randy Friese, D-Tucson, and Senate Majority Whip Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, had perfect attendance and voting records.

All but two members managed to attend at least 85 percent of the required work days. Only one member cast a vote on less than 80 percent of the measures that went up for a vote.

For the second year in a row, Rep. Wenona Benally, D-Window Rock, had the worst attendance record out of all of her colleagues. Benally only made it to 75 percent of her required work days. However, the freshman lawmaker still managed to vote 85 percent of the time.

The disparity between lawmakers’ attendance and voting records can be attributed to members showing up for attendance, but leaving early to attend other meetings or engagements and missing votes later in the day. Sometimes members are late and marked absent, but are there to vote.

Sen. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix, wasn’t far ahead of Benally, showing up for 76 percent of her work days and only pushing a button for 78 percent of floor votes.

Republican Reps. Heather Carter, of Cave Creek, and Tony Rivero, of Peoria, tied for the third worst attendance record, each attending 85 percent of their required work days.

Rivero also holds the third worst voting record of the 2018 session, voting on 86 percent of all floor votes. He was in Israel during the final week of the session and missed the vote on the budget bills, but returned for the final day of work.

The worst voting record goes to Rep. Tony Navarrete, D-Phoenix. While he attended 87 percent of the required work days, he only voted on 78 percent of measures that went up on the board.