EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 16, 2013

Some N.H. lawmakers fail to show up to vote

Health, job issues prevent some lawmakers from voting

(Continued)

The 24-year House member said he makes it to Concord whenever his health allows it — often voting while in a wheelchair.

“I always make a point that if I can get there, I’m up there,” he said. “I still have a better voting record than some of the others.”

Absenteeism not problematic

House leaders for both parties said despite a large number of lawmakers who have illnesses or family or job commitments on any given day, absenteeism isn’t a major problem. Most call ahead to explain their situation, they said.

Majority Leader Stephen Shurtleff, D-Penacook, and Minority Leader Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said on average, roughly 350 to 375 of the members participate in roll-call votes.

“Out of 400 people, you are always going to have a small percentage (absent),” Shurtleff said. “The vast majority of the people take the post very seriously.”

Health and family issues are not uncommon, he said.

“Sadly, those things happen,” he said. “Your heart goes out to them.”

Most are excused absences while a small number are not, he said. Some lawmakers skip votes unless they are truly interested in the legislation, Shurtleff said.

“You may have a few who just want to have the state license plate,” he joked.

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