Rep. Mele Carroll, a neighbor island Democrat, has missed 11 of the 45 floor sessions in the 2012 Hawaii Legislature.

Part of the reason Carroll says she missed nearly one-fourth of session is that she represents a House district unlike most others: three islands — Lanai, Molokai and the uninhabited Kahoolawe — as well as parts of Maui including remote Hana.

With that kind of geography — plus flights to and from the Capitol in Honolulu — outreach can be challenging, she says.

“It’s hard,” she said.

Carroll also got sick, forcing her to miss Days 39 through 44.

Only a few of Carroll’s colleagues come close to matching her poor attendance record.

In second place with 10 missed floor sessions is Rep. Bob Herkes, the Big Island Democrat (who will be seeking a Senate this year, thanks to reapportionment). Herkes was sick, too, including being hospitalized.

Mililani Rep. Marilyn Lee, another Democrat, missed nine floor sessions. But the absences followed the death of her husband, former Rep. Sam Lee, who passed away in February.

Twenty representatives posted perfect floor attendance, including Majority Leader Pono Chong, Judiciary Chair Gil Keith-Agaran, Majority Floor Leader Cindy Evans, Minority Policy Leader Barbara Marumoto and Minority Whip George Fontaine.

Civil Beat has a request into Senate Clerk Carol Taniguchi to obtain Senate attendance records, as they are not posted online like the House’s.

Sixty-Day Session

Though the Legislature officially convenes from around mid-January to the first week in May, it’s technically a 60-day session.

That’s the number of floor sessions, the time the full House and full Senate meet in their respective chambers.

Often, the business of floor sessions is routine and dull, like the referral of bills to committees.

On crossover days, however, where sessions can last hours, a lot of important debate occurs, especially regarding controversial legislation and appointments.

Carroll did attend during floor sessions at the time of the first crossover deadline, as did Herkes. But Herkes also missed Days 30 through 38 as well as Day 41.

Herkes told Civil Beat he was sick but has since “fully recovered.”

Given that Democrats control 43 seats in the 51-member House, a missing member may not have made any difference in most votes.

But, one can imagine attendance records being cited by opposing candidates come election time.

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