OKLAHOMA CITY — Lawmakers cited a number of factors that caused them to be among those who missed the most votes in a session that ended last month.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, led the upper chamber in missed votes. He missed 62.93% of the votes in the session that began Feb. 4 and ended May 23.
The missed votes were tabulated by eCapitol, a subscription-based legislative news and bill tracking service.
The vote totals compiled by eCapitol include votes cast in committees. Depending on committee assignments, the total number of votes individual lawmakers could have participated in ranged from about 900 to more that 1,300 for some House members and senators.
“A huge part of leading the Senate requires me to be in meetings during the session with the governor, speaker and others,” Treat said.
He said that although the House speaker is able to vote when not on the floor, the Senate President Pro Tem can’t due to the upper chamber’s rules.
Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, missed 34.81% of the votes.
Silk was the author of Senate Bill 13, which sought to make abortion murder. The bill did not get a hearing but drew crowds to the Capitol, including Free the States, which seeks to abolish abortion.
“I had a lot of events this year, more than normal statewide, and also in the district,” Silk said. Some of those events were related to the abolition movement, he said.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, came in third, missing 25.23% of the votes.
Thompson said his role working on the state budget resulted in his missing votes.
“I didn’t miss any days at the Legislature,” Thompson said.
Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, ranked fourth in missed Senate votes with 20.41%.
“Due to my position as chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus and my relationship with the leadership of the House of Representatives, I was absent for various votes to negotiate specific legislation,” Smalley said.
Smalley said his duties as chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee also required numerous meetings in addition to the constituents who visited his office.
“I reserve the right to miss some votes as I felt certain issues and the needs of my constituents are a priority,” Smalley said.
Sen. Frank Simpson ranked fifth, missing 19.60% of the votes. Simpson said he missed votes to care for his wife, who later passed away.
Freshman Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, had the best voting record, only missing one vote.
“It seemed to me that is what I was elected for — to go there and make the votes,” he said.
House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, led the lower chamber in missed votes. He missed 33.13% of the votes.
Wallace said he was present for every day of session. He said he had a ton of meetings and also dealt with constituent issues.
Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, missed 28.8% of the votes.
Pittman said the Capitol is in her district. She said she had a high volume of constituents who visited her office.
Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, said he missed 27.11% of the votes as the result of meetings to work on legislation, especially criminal justice reform.
“I certainly made sure that on major pieces of policy I was there and present and accounted for in voting,” he said. “I didn’t miss a day all session.”
Rep. Denise Brewer, D-Tulsa, ranked fourth, missing 26.9%. She said she missed only a few votes until having surgery on May 13.
Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, missed 26.16% of the votes.
Meredith said he missed a couple of days during deadline week and missed votes while attending his son’s livestock show.
In addition, he was responsible for putting together the budget for the House Democrats and meeting with constituents, which he said also took him away from votes.
Freshman Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, had the best voting record in the House, missing only 12 votes.
“That is what I got hired to do,” she said. “That is where the rubber meets the road.”
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