The legislature adjourned Sine Die last weekend and there's been a lot of ink and arm-waving over what they did and didn't get done-- and a great picture of House Speaker Frank Chopp on the front of the PI carrying a plastic pink flamingo.
We can bicker and beg to differ about the substance of the session, but residents should feel well-served by their elected officials if overall attendance is any indication.
According to washingtonvotes.org, produced annually by free-market advocate Washington Policy Center, there were 45 legislators who didn't miss a single vote out of nearly 4,700 bills and amendments that were introduced-- and only four members who missed more than 100 votes. (Chopp, Maralyn Chase and Sharon Tomiko Santos were among the local reps with perfect voting attendance).
West Seattle's Sen. Erik Poulsen was in the 100+ club with 101 missed votes. His excuse? Being important. "Legislative leaders who are responsible for negotiating the agreements necessary to pass critical bills . . . often cannot perform these duties while voting on the Senate floor. My missed votes are a reflection of this leadership role I play in the Senate," he told washingtonvotes.
The other top culprits who were absent cited medical reasons. Bremerton's Rep. William Eickmeyer, who missed the most at 222, said it was his sciatic nerve. "I came in and laid on my back in my office with pain killers, ice packs and muscle relaxants whenever it looked like my vote would be needed on the floor to pass closely voted bills," he told washingtonvotes.
A+ for effort. Find out how your state rep or senator did here.
I haven't taken the time to research how these numbers compare to the days before members had access to the Internet on the floor. But if the e-mails I've received while votes are in progress are any indication, there's a lot of multi-tasking going on and probably a lot fewer votes being missed. Thanks be to technology. Though, I still don't think I'd recommend such advances in Congress. There's something to be said for the mingling, finger-drumming and backslapping that takes place while they have to stand around, waiting for the clerk to read the record.