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Michigan Votes

• Jan 2, 2018 at 11:00 AM

This edition of the Weekly Roll Call Report features the annual Missed Votes Report, showing how many votes state legislators missed in 2017.

The Michigan Legislature will convene its 2018 session on Jan. 10, and the next Roll Call Report will be published Jan. 12.

Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed 1,153 roll call votes in 2017, according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org.

Six senators and two representatives each missed 50 or more votes in 2017, led by Coleman Young II in the Senate and LaTanya Garrett in the House, who failed to vote 144 times and 95 times, respectively. There were 15 senators and 85 representatives who missed no votes this year.

The 1,153 missed votes in 2017 is down from 1,228 in 2016, but is up in percentage terms because fewer roll call votes were taken.

Excluding purely procedural votes, the Senate voted 570 times in 2017 and the House 511 times, for a total of 1,081 roll call votes by the entire Legislature. In 2016, there were 1,614 roll call votes taken by both bodies.

The number of missed votes has fallen dramatically since the 2001-02 Legislature, which was the first session covered by MichiganVotes.org. Over that two-year period, individual Michigan lawmakers failed to cast a roll call vote 21,162 times.

“Legislators’ habits changed almost immediately when MichiganVotes.org began making this information easily accessible to voters,” McHugh said.

The full report can be viewed at www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx, and can be sorted by name or by the number of missed votes. By clicking on a legislator’s name, users can see a brief, plain-English description of the actual votes he or she missed. Missed vote totals for previous sessions can be viewed by entering a different date range.

Among Ottawa County’s state lawmakers, Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, didn’t miss a single vote in 2017. Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, missed one.

McHugh noted that, in most cases, missed votes occur when other demands within the legislative process call a lawmaker off the floor for a few minutes or when serious family or personal issues require an absence of an entire day or longer.

“Legislators are people, too,” McHugh said. “No one should jump to conclusions or assume bad faith, but voters have a right to ask why a lawmaker missed a large number of votes.”

While the Missed Votes Report is a popular year-end feature, McHugh notes it is just a small piece of MichiganVotes.org’s capabilities.

“MichiganVotes.org was excited this year to add a new ‘golden button’ feature that gives users one-click access (plus entering their ZIP code) to a list of how the lawmakers who represent their community voted on the most meaningful measures of the current legislature,” McHugh said. “This is something users always said they wanted, and now it’s here.”

MichiganVotes.org is a non-partisan website created by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, providing concise, plain-English descriptions of every bill and vote in the Michigan House and Senate.

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