Cleveland leads local lawmakers in missed votes

Most of them occurred on a single day

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 
photoVotes missed by Clark County lawmakers, 2014. Click to enlarge.

State Sen. Annette Cleveland missed more votes than any other local legislator during the 2014 regular session, according to a nonpartisan organization that prepares an annual tally of lawmakers' voting records.

The Vancouver Democrat missed 31 votes out of 396 roll calls on the Senate floor during the 60-day session, according to WashingtonVotes.org. That ranked third among senators in 2014, and tied for eighth among all state legislators.

Most of Cleveland's missed votes happened Feb. 12, when she traveled to Salem, Ore., to testify in support of the Columbia River Crossing before an Oregon legislative committee.

"Given that this project was the single most important means of spurring new jobs and economic growth in my district and region, I felt it was imperative that I speak for my constituents and our state before the Transportation Committee in Oregon," Cleveland told WashingtonVotes.org.

The proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement never came to a floor vote in the Oregon Legislature. Officials began shutting down the $2.9 billion project this month.

Cleveland was among several Washington leaders to speak at the February hearing. While she attended in person, other state lawmakers — including state Reps. Jim Moeller and Sharon Wylie, both Vancouver Democrats, and Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center — opted to testify by phone.

Cleveland missed 21 votes the day she traveled to Salem. The bills Cleveland missed voting on included her own proposal expanding access to Medicaid programs for residents in border communities. Senate Bill 6419 still passed the Senate by a 48-0 vote, and later cleared the House on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk.

Among other state lawmakers who live in Clark County, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, missed six votes during the 2014 session. Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, missed one vote. Every House member from the 49th, 17th and 18th legislative districts had perfect roll call records, never missing a vote.

In the 20th Legislative District, which includes a portion of north Clark County, Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, missed 31 votes out of 515 roll calls in the House. Most of those occurred during a handful of days in February and March.

"The reason I missed votes was due to budget negotiations and family obligations," DeBolt told WashingtonVotes.org.

The 20th District's Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, didn't miss any votes in the 2014 session.

All three lawmakers representing the 14th Legislative District, which reaches into east Clark County, also had perfect roll call records.

The lawmakers with the most missed votes were Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, with 98, and Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, with 87. Baumgartner cited the birth of his third child in February as the reason for his missed votes. Hurst did not provide a response to WashingtonVotes.org.