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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Keeping tabs on lawmakers leads to fewer no-shows

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The men and women who make Michigan's laws have someone watching over their shoulders. 

So who's putting legislators' feet to the fire? It's the public --  with some help from a conservative think tank.

Jack McHugh is a legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

He compiles the "Michigan Votes Report,"  a searchable online database that was launched in 2003 to track lawmakers' votes  -- or lack of them.

"We had legislators missing hundreds of votes, who frankly just weren't showing up to work," McHugh says.

But he says that's changed dramatically because AWOL politicians are now tracked in the voting report,  which also shows how they voted.

"Today, in almost all cases when they miss votes, there's a good reason."

McHugh says the report also translates  legal-speak into everyday, non-partisan language.

"A good number of bills are so bad that if you just describe what they actually do, you don't have to spin any spin or interpretation on it," McHugh says.  "It speaks for itself."

To see the Missed Votes Report, visit MichiganVotes.org.