Austin state Rep. Dawnna Dukes absent for more than 50 percent of votes in Texas House during 85th legislative session

Confusion circulated prior to the 85th legislative session over the fate of the Texas House seat held by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin. In September 2016, Dukes announced she would resign in light of health concerns from a 2013 car accident. A pool of candidates indicated their own desire to replace Dukes as the representative for House District 46.

Then, just a day prior to session the start of the session, Dukes indicated she would, in fact, serve her term as representative.  On the heels of this news came the indictment of Dukes on three separate corruption charges. Yet, Dukes still said she would serve.

"People who are underserved deserve to have my voice in the House," she said at the time in a statement on Facebook.

Dukes arrived for her first day in the Legislature but has since dropped off in voting activity, casting a vote less than 50 percent of the time, according to recordvotes.com, a website that tracks individual votes of every Texas lawmaker by pulling the records from the House and Senate daily journal.

The majority of those absences were unexcused and included missed votes on final passage of Senate Bill 1, the state budget, which, as part of the House Appropriations Committee, Dukes helped draft. She also missed final votes on Senate Bill 4, the "sanctuary city" bill; Senate Bill 8, an omnibus bill restricting access to abortions; House Bill 2, the supplemental budget bridging the gaps in the 2016-17 budget; and House Bill 5, a bill to fix state Child Protective Services.


Committee attendance


Dukes, first elected in 1994, is one of the most senior members of the House. She used this seniority and a House rule, which gives committee preference to members who have served the longest terms, to maintain her spot on the House Appropriations Committee.

Prior to session starting, Dukes told the Texas Tribune that it was a major priority to be reappointed to the Article II Appropriations subcommittee on health and human services so she could work to offer solutions for Child Protective Services.

In early February, Dukes was reappointed to both the Appropriations Committee, the Article II subcommittee and International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. In 2015, she served on the Appropriations Committee and as vice chair of the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee.

As the session progressed, Dukes failed to attend the majority of her committee hearings, even after using seniority to maintain her spot on the Appropriations Committee. Here is a breakdown of how many meetings she attended for each committee.







The only meeting that Dukes attended for the entire duration was a May 23 International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs meeting that lasted two minutes. Dukes missed the initial roll call at the beginning of all other meetings she attended.

Bills that Dukes authored and voted for/against


Dukes authored a total of 25 bills in the 85th legislative session, including three that she was listed as a co-author on. Of the 25 authored bills, nine received committee hearings or were brought to the House floor. Typically, a bill's author presents his or her own bill in a committee hearing. If a bill has multiple authors, only one legislator is needed to present the bill. On rare occasions, another representative who is not an author or sponsor of the bill can present it on behalf of the author, should he or she not be present.

Here is a breakdown of each of Dukes' bills that progressed to a committee hearing and who presented them in committee:

  • House Bill 2247: State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, a co-author of the bill, presented the bill to the Public Education Committee.

  • House Bill 2330: State Rep. Ina Minjarez, D-San Antonio, presented the bill on behalf of Dukes. Dukes was the sole author of the bill at the time of the committee hearing.

  • House Bill 2331: Minjarez again presented the bill on behalf of Dukes at the same committee hearing. Dukes was the sole author of the bill at the time of the committee hearing.

  • House Bill 4072: State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, presented the bill on behalf of Dukes. Dukes was the sole author of the bill at the time of the committee hearing.

  • House Bill 4077: Dukes presented the bill at an April 25 committee hearing.

  • House Bill 4348: State Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, presented the bill on behalf of Dukes. Dukes is the sole author of the bill.


There were three bills Dukes authored that received votes on the House floor. Here is a breakdown of whether or not Dukes voted on each of these bills.

  • House Bill 2552: Dukes co-authored this bill with Thompson. Dukes voted in favor of an amendment and to pass the bill on second reading on May 11. She was absent for the bill's final passage vote on May 12 and for the vote to concur with Senate changes May 27.

  • House Resolution 191: Dukes co-authored this resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide with several other representatives. She was not present for the vote to pass the resolution May 19.

  • House Resolution 682: Dukes co-authored this resolution in memory of Richard A. Moya of Austin with several other city of Austin representatives. She was excused for her absence March 16 when the vote was taken to pass the resolution.


Reaction to Dukes' absence


At least two of Dukes' potential House District 46 replacements are still planning to run for her seat in the coming 2018 election. Chito Vela, an immigration attorney and city of Austin planning commissioner, issued a statement condemning Dukes' absence for the final vote on the state budget.

"Her absenteeism just continues to be a problem," he said. "I am just tremendously disappointed by her lack of attendance and her inability to show up and vote against some of the horrible legislation from this session."

Sheryl Cole, a former Austin City Council member who previously served as the city's mayor pro tem, said voting is the most important part of a legislator's job.

"I think the most important duty of a legislative member is to serve their district," she said. "And to miss a critical vote like the budget, she fails to do that."

Dukes and the Travis County Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment on her voting record.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

A candidate for interim city manager will be selected from the Texas Municipal League. (Courtesy city of Huttto)
Hutto seeks to hire interim city manager from Texas Municipal League

The city of Hutto will seek a retired city manager from the Texas Municipal League to serve as Hutto's interim city manager.

Michael Angelos Gourmet Foods prepares, processes and packages a line of Italian frozen dishes at a facility in Round Rock.
18 new jobs, $11M facility upgrades: Michael Angelos Gourmet Foods ups investment in Round Rock

Local manufacturer of frozen foods Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods plans to upgrade its facilities, hire additional staff with a $290,000 economic incentive boost.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
Engineering consulting firm BGE to bring at least 80 new jobs to Round Rock

BGE, Inc. will create at least 80 jobs in Round Rock with an average salary of $80,000, according to an economic development agreement approved by Round Rock City Council Dec. 5.

Nutty Brown Cafe & Amphitheatre is a south Austin music venue that first opened in July 2000. (Community Impact Staff)
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre gets 2-year extension to build $10M venue in Round Rock

A highly-anticipated outdoor music venue has delayed its Round Rock opening once again.

Louisiana Crab Shack is set to open two Round Rock locations on Gattis School Road and Palm Valley Boulevard. (Lacy Klasel/Community Impact Newspaper)
Louisiana Crab Shack to open 2 Round Rock locations

The Austin-based seafood chain currently has restaurants in Austin, Georgetown, Cedar Park and Waco.

Spirit of Texas' newly opened taproom features offerings such as a vanilla porter and India pale ale as well as amber and blonde ales. (Courtesy Shaun Siems)
Spirit of Texas expands Pflugerville distillery, adding brewery

Spirit of Texas officially opened its taproom Nov. 8.

Jason Ball, Round Rock Chamber president and CEO, discussed the vision and values of the chamber as well as local trends to watch in 2020. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
468 new jobs, $30.4M investment in 2019: Round Rock Chamber is 'strong,' CEO says in annual address

Round Rock Chamber President and CEO Jason Ball delivered the 2019 State of the Chamber address Dec. 3.

Travis County commissioners received their sixth update on the 2017-22 bond program at a Dec. 3 meeting. (Emma Freer/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County 2017-22 bond program remains on track thanks to innovations

Fifty-six of the 60 projects included in the five-year bond program Travis County voters approved in 2017 are in active development, according to a Dec. 3 presentation made to the Commissioners Court.

The Williamson County seat is located in Georgetown at 710 S. Main St. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County sees one of the largest year-over-year employment increases in the U.S.

Williamson County continues to see its unemployment rate decline.

REAL ESTATE DATA: Homes on the market in Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto

Residential real estate listings added to the market between 11/5/19 and 11/26/19 were provided by the Austin Board of Realtors.

For a 10-month period, the city of Pflugerville had failed to adequately treat its water supply. City officials added that despite the treatment technique violations, the water had been and continues to be safe to drink. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Pflugerville officials seek to remedy city's water treatment failure

The city of Pflugerville failed to meet state-mandated water treatment levels from October 2018 through September 2019, excluding December 2018 and April 2019.

Back to top