Utah Rep. Lynn Hemingway, D-Millcreek, has missed all of the 2018 Legislature so far, now more than halfway through.
Hemingway was visiting children in New York state when his wife, Sherma, became seriously ill.
She was hospitalized, House Minority Leader Brian King told UtahPolicy, and has had to undergo four different intestinal surgeries in recent weeks.
The Hemingways remain in New York.
Rep. Hemingway told UtahPolicy Thursday afternoon that he hopes to be back before adjournment March 8. But he can’t promise that.
There is no date for his wife to even getting out of the hospital, he said.
His wife became ill New Year’s Eve, had emergency surgery, and he hoped they would be back before lawmakers started Jan. 22.
“But it has been one step forward, two steps back,” in her recovery, he said.
Hemingway has had to rent an apartment, even though he spends most nights sleeping in a chair in her hospital room.
Still, his District 40 in Millcreek area has not been represented in the first half of the session.
King said he and all legislators hope and pray for the best for the Hemingways.
King said he has not discussed with Hemingway whether he should resign, but in any case with only three weeks left his seat likely couldn’t be filled before adjournment March 8.
Hemingway said he originally thought about resigning, as his wife hit one bad spot after another.
“But I was talked out of it. I thought I could get back in another week,” but the time just dragged on as she didn’t get better.
District 40 has had some bad luck with its representatives recently.
Hemingway was the long-time seat holder. When he retired several years ago the seat was filled by a young Democrat who got into political/personal trouble and had to resign. Hemingway was put in on a temporary basis by Democratic delegates, and then won re-election in 2016.
Democrats hold only 13 seats in the 75-member body and have, at times, had problems filling all the standing and budget committees with minority members.
King said to his knowledge Hemingway’s absence has not resulted in a vote on a bill or budget issue going against Democratic positions.
“But that could happen; he has been gone for the whole session so far,” said King.