September 25, 2015

Final tally of lawmakers’ votes: ayes, nays and taking a pass in 2015

BY JIM MILLER / The Sacramento Bee

Lawmakers miss votes for multiple reasons.

Sometimes they are not present because of illness or have been excused from session for legislative or personal business, such as campaign meetings. Sometimes lawmakers are present yet still don’t vote.

Whatever the explanation, California lawmakers missed hundreds of votes during the legislative year that ended Sept. 12, final legislative voting records show.

This year’s average nonvoting rate of about 4 percent – 3.7 percent on the floor and 5 percent in committee – compares to an overall nonvoting rate of 5.2 percent in 2013, the first half of the last two-year session.

Some lawmakers abstain, or “take a pass,” to avoid a political dilemma. Republicans and Democrats representing more competitive districts, for example, generally did not vote more often than their colleagues from politically safer seats in 2015, records show.

Some lawmakers missed votes at higher rates than their colleagues.

In the Assembly, Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, did not vote 14.9 percent of the time on the floor, and Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, had a nonvote percentage of 10.9 percent. In committee action, Assembly members Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, and Roger Hernández, D-Baldwin Park, did not vote about a quarter of the time.

In the Senate, Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, missed 15.2 percent of floor-voting opportunities, and Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, missed 12.1 percent. State senators Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, and Isadore Hall, D-Compton, led their caucuses in committee nonvotes, voting records show.

Chávez is running for the U.S. Senate, and Hall seeks a seat in Congress. Runner has struggled with health problems. Pavley missed some session days because of a family member’s illness. Campos had a death in the family, according to legislative journals.

One lawmaker had perfect record of voting: Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, never missed a vote, records show.

Some members of the Legislature’s Democratic majority voted “no” at rates significantly higher than their caucus colleagues.

In the Senate, Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, Richard Roth, D-Riverside and Cathleen Galgiani, D-Manteca, voted “no” on the floor at rates more than three times their caucus’ average. Glazer’s no-vote total was the most of any Democrat, even though his special election victory came almost five months into the 2015 session. Roth and Galgiani represent swing districts. All three are up for re-election next year.

In the Assembly, Gatto, Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, and Adam Gray, D-Merced, also voted “no” much more often than their colleagues.

Among Republicans, meanwhile, Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, and state Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, topped the Legislature in voting no almost a quarter of the time.


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