The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 21, 2013

Our View: Absent from House

The Joplin Globe

— We can’t figure out why two Missouri legislators think they should be elected to the U.S. House when it appears they can’t seem to show up to take care of business in the Missouri House.

Republican Jason Smith, R-Salem, missed 462 of the 766 roll-call votes taken from the day the session started through its next-to-last day. His Democratic opponent, Steve Hodges, of East Prairie, missed 171 votes. The Southeast Missourian newspaper examined their voting records and found that both had an unusually low number of votes.

The legislators will face each other on June 4 in a special election to  succeed U.S. Rep Jo Ann Emerson, who is resigning from her job representing southeast Missouri’s 8th Congressional District.

Smith has told the newspaper that indeed he had been in Washington several times since his Feb. 9 nomination. Once he was there meeting with the National Republican Campaign Committee. Hodges said his absences have explanations, such as having to step away from the floor to deal with constituent concerns.

But a big constituent concern has to be that no sooner than politicians get elected to one position, they are off campaigning for something else.

This particular “absence from duty” case is but one example of how voters can no longer be sure that their views will be represented.

If those who worked in the private sector failed to show up three-fifths of the time — Smith’s record — they wouldn’t have a job long.

And neither should legislators who use their constituents’ time to further their political careers.