Five Southwest Louisiana legislators chalked up great attendance records at this year’s regular session. Two of the other seven lawmakers were ill, which accounts for their higher-than-average absentee record.
Some who miss votes are sponsoring bills that often require them to testify in the other chamber while votes are taking place. However, most legislators who responded to The Times-Picayune’s request for an explanation said they made an effort to be present for votes on the more important measures.
Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, missed only 2.2 percent of the recorded votes. Others with high marks are Rep. Frank Howard, R-Many (4.6 percent); Rep. Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff (6.3 percent); Rep. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles (6.4 percent); and Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles (7.8 percent). Howard represents Vernon Parish.
The two area lawmakers who missed the most recorded votes were ill. They are Reps. Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek (64.5 percent), and James Armes, D-Leesville (35.9 percent). Hill was on sick leave during most of the votes she missed. Armes told the newspaper he had to lie down often on orders from his doctor.
“I know I didn’t miss any major votes,” Armes said.
Rep. Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville, missed 35.9 percent of the votes; Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, 33.0 percent; Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, 20.6 percent; Sen. John Smith, R-Leesville, 19.9 percent; and Rep. Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings, 19.8 percent. Morrish and LaFleur are chairmen of Senate committees, which accounts for some of their missed votes. LaFleur represents Allen Parish.
Rep. Johnny Berthelot, R-Gonzales, had the best record, missing only 0.54 percent of the votes. Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, who was also ill, missed 84.9 percent of the recorded votes, the highest among the 142 legislators.
Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, missed only 0.94 percent of the votes. Alario has been in the Legislature since 1972, longer than any other legislator. Speaker of the House Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, missed only 5.1 percent of the votes.
We commend area legislators with high attendance records. They, too, have other responsibilities, but take their government service seriously.