Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
AUSTIN -- State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has missed more than 100 record votes during the current legislative session, the most of the 150 members of the House, according to a Tribune analysis of data from a legislative analytics website.
The 11-term Democrat — who was indicted in January on abuse-of-office charges — has missed 64 percent of the votes taken so far during the legislative session as of Friday, according to data collected by recordvotes.com.
The data includes all record votes House members have taken so far this session, including on bills, amendments to bills and roll call votes at the start of every day the House has convened.
Dukes sits on the House Appropriations Committee, which writes the House's version of the proposed state budget. She was present and voting for most of Thursday's 15-hour-long budget debate on the House floor, missing only 16 of 66 record votes.
Dukes suggested her attendance on the House’s budget night was more reflective of her work on the Appropriations Committee for the current legislative session. Before the budget debate, she had missed more than 78 percent of record votes in the House.
“Most of my work this session has been behind the scenes in Appropriations committee, conferring with agency heads, nonprofit/interest groups and meeting with constituents — just like every session I've served in,” Dukes wrote in a text message in response to questions about her attendance. She added that passing a budget is the Legislature's top priority.
Dukes’ missed votes include both excused and unexcused absences. According to the House clerk’s office, an excused absence is granted to a representative so long as they notify the office or ask another colleague to announce their absence on the floor. An absence only counts as unexcused if the lawmaker doesn’t communicate their plans to miss a day.
Citing health problems, Dukes announced in September that she would retire from office on Jan. 10, the first day of the legislative session. In the days before the start of the session, she said she had changed her mind.
The House members that have missed the most record votes after Dukes pointed to health or family issues for the absences.
State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who had missed 54 record votes this session ahead of Thursday’s budget debate,told the Tribune most of her absences were due to two personal surgeries — one on her knee and another on her eyes — and a death in the family.
“My father was diagnosed with cancer again in November, and he didn’t really tell us how severe it was,” she said. “And then he passed away, so I was dealing with that a couple weeks ago. ... It’s just been insane. It’s been a tough session, health-wise, for me.”
Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, who had missed 49 record votes before the budget debate, has not yet returned to the Legislature since a March car accident that left him hospitalized for four days.
Farrar missed two record votes on budget night, bringing her total of missed record votes to 56 as of Friday. And Keough, who was absent for the entire marathon budget debate, has missed a total of 115 record votes so far as of Friday — still less than the record votes Dukes missed before the budget debate.
Jolie McCullough contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/04/12/data-shows-dukes-has-missed-most-votes-texas-house/.
2017 THE TEXAS TRIBUNE