HARRISBURG -- State Representative Kevin Haggerty of Dunmore has passed a notorious milestone: 200 floor votes missed in Harrisburg since July.
But this time, a fellow Democrat from our region called him out on those no-shows and may be setting the stage for the House to take action against Haggerty.
Until Monday, State Representative Haggerty’s absences have been excused because it has been the policy of both parties not to ask for an explanation when lawmakers don’t show up.
But the Democrat from Dunmore has not gone to Harrisburg to vote since July 22, and his absence on Monday was not excused.
On the house floor Monday morning, the senior Democratic representative from our area, Mike Carroll of Avoca, stood up on the house floor to discuss Haggerty’s absences saying essentially, enough is enough.
"Concurrent to Rule 64 A, I object to the absence of the gentleman from Lackawanna," said Carroll.
"Yes, sir, so Representative Carroll has placed an objection of a leave of absence of Representative Haggerty from Lackawanna for the day. So as of today, he is on an unexcused absence," replied State Rep. Mike Turzai, (R) House Speaker.
As a result of the move, if Haggerty has four more straight unexcused absences, the legislature could find him in contempt of the House.
Punishment would be determined by his house colleagues.
Haggerty has now missed 215 votes since July 22, including key votes on the budget and a natural gas severance tax.
While Representative Haggerty has said he does not go to Harrisburg so he could be near his children during his divorce, Representative Carroll emailed us this statement:
"Since July 22, the people of the 112th District have not had a voice or a vote in Harrisburg. While I understand family responsibilities are of utmost concern, an absence from representing over 60,000 people for nearly five months has serious consequences for our region and state. I’m hopeful today’s action will result in careful examination of next steps for Rep. Haggerty."
We received no response from our calls to Haggerty’s office or to his chief of staff Monday afternoon.
Several longtime house staffers said there is no record of any representative having their absences declared "unexcused" in at least a generation.