December 1, 2023

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Absentee, Party-Switcher Sen. Doll Escapes Consequences

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Sen. John Doll announced he would be leaving the Kansas Republican Party on March 6, and then he promptly stopped showing up to cast votes in the legislature.

Doll, who represents an area that includes Garden City, notched excused absences from the Senate on March 7, 8, and 9. He is serving as independent gubernatorial candidate Greg Orman’s running mate.

Sen. John Doll, Garden City

The Senator announced his resignation from Senate committees with his departure from the GOP, though Senate Rule 22 would have stripped him of his committee posts. Senate leadership will allow Doll to caucus with Republicans, but that decision isn’t sitting well with some Republican members.

“Not enough has happened to him,” Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Louisburg Republican, told the Sunflower Republican Club on Saturday.

She said he should have been given a seat in the back of the Senate chamber, much like a timeout, for abandoning the Republican Party and not showing up to work.

Last week, the Garden City-area Senator missed a call of the Senate for a vote on Convention of the States legislation. (It required a two-thirds majority and fell shy.) During a call, the doors are shut, and Senators wait until every member shows up and votes. Doll was five hours away, campaigning in Dodge City at the time. Baumgardner said the body didn’t have the will to sit and wait it out.

“We could have and in some ways, I think we should have,” she said. “He is getting paid.”

The Senate voted to lift the call. Sen. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican, said Doll is shirking his responsibility with his absences. Excused absences used to be reserved for deaths in the family or serious illnesses.

“There used to be a real reason why you wouldn’t be there,” Olson said. “You have a duty to be there.”

Baumgardner said Doll shouldn’t be allowed to caucus with Republicans, but Denning explained caucus meetings are open. Members of the public are welcome to attend Republican caucus meetings, though they aren’t be allowed to ask questions or engage in discussions.

Denning said the people Doll represents need to take care of his absences. Baumgardner alluded to a potential remedy.

“One possibility–and I’ve heard there’s some consideration–that would be a recall vote,” Baumgardner said.

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