When it comes to school or work, does attendance matter?
What if it’s Hawaii lawmakers we’re talking about?
They’re elected into office and they get paid. So are lawmakers there at the State Capitol when they should be?
“If you or I missed a day every week or two, our boss would ask us questions. So I think we do have to ask questions, when our Legislature that we pay for are not there,” said John Hart, political analyst and chair of Hawaii Pacific University’s Communication Department.
KHON2 found out the state representatives who had the most full-day absences during the session of 60 days: Rep. Sam Kong, D, Aiea, with 12 days; Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R, Kailua, Kaneohe Bay with 11; and Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village with nine.
We asked all of them about their absences.
Rep. Kong cited “medical reasons.” Rep. Thielen released a statement and said, “During that time, my husband developed a sudden and unexpected illness. I was by his side until he passed away.”
Rep. Oshiro said, “Coordinating the community’s efforts to save Wahiawa General Hospital caused me to spend much of my time in my district. Sometimes the most important work is done in the community and not the Capitol.”
“The important thing is that when the vote is available, of course, I want everybody there for a vote so they don’t miss the vote,” said House Speaker Joe Souki.
What about lawmakers who were there every day?
Out of the 51 state representatives, 19 had perfect attendance, including some lawmakers from the Neighbor Islands.
Lawmakers do not have sick days and they do not have a maximum number of days they need to be at the State Capitol.
But should there be? The people we spoke with said it doesn’t work that way.
“It’s not how many days, it’s the quality of the work. They gotta put the whole thing together,” Souki said.
“If our representatives have a good reason, let the public judge them,” Hart said.
The Senate does not have a list, so we compiled lawmakers’ attendance by hand for the 60-day session.
Sen. Breene Harimoto, D, Pearl City, Pearlridge, Aiea, logged the most full-day absences with 18, and Sen. Sam Slom, R, Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, Kahala, followed with 17.
Both were due to medical reasons.
Sen. Laura Thielen, D, Kailua, Waimanalo, came in third with 11, due to a death in the family (same as above).
Three of 25 senators logged perfect attendance: Sens. Will Espero, D, Ewa Beach, Iroquois Pointe; Glenn Wakai, D, Kalihi, Salt Lake, Pearl Harbor; and Mike Gabbard, D, Kapolei, Makakilo, Waipahu.