News Columns & Blogs

How often can lawmakers be absent?

Legislators' work is not confined to normal business hours Monday through Friday, as they often attend forums or respond to constituent calls during the evenings and on weekends. So occasionally being absent in Topeka, particularly on Fridays when no votes are scheduled, isn't a big deal. But it's up to voters to decide how much absenteeism is too much. For example, state Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, was absent 18 percent of the time during the past 1½ legislative sessions. It's also fair to ask whether taxpayers need to pay for a 90-day legislative session, given how often the Kansas House doesn't conduct any business on Fridays. The House had three "pro forma days" in the first half of the 2010 session and recorded eight in 2009, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.