11th-hour push would dial up per diems for lawmakers

As the 110th General Assembly works its way toward adjournment, lawmakers are making an 11-hour push to pad their expense accounts.

As Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports, the bill sponsored by House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams of Cookeville (HB1941) would stop using the federal reimbursement rate for hotels and instead use a new formula based on Nashville’s downtown business district. Williams told the House Government Operations Committee on Monday that the change would result in an additional $30 to $60 per night, depending one hotel prices. (The current federal rate is $170 per night.)

Lawmakers receive the daily hotel reimbursement regardless of the price they pay for hotels, or if they rent their own apartments when they are in town on legislative business (or even if they sleep in their offices for free).

According to the Times Free Press report:

“This would not be a raise, this would be a reimbursement,” Williams told Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville, who questioned the increase.

Replied Jernigan: “That would be one way of looking at it.”

In response to other questions, Williams said the new formula would not apply to state employees staying in Nashville on business.

Lawmakers also get reimbursements for mileage and a set allotment for meals which the bill does not impact.

Under current law, lawmakers living within a 50-mile radius of Nashville do not get the hotel reimbursement. 

Asked later why the changes were being pushed at the last minute – legislative leaders hope to wrap up their annual session next week – Williams said a broader bill failed recently in a Senate committee. 

“All this bill does is reset what the per diem rate is,” he told the Times Free Press. “It’s a small amount of money.”

5 Responses to 11th-hour push would dial up per diems for lawmakers

  • James White says:

    Sine Die

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    Bless their hearts….. If your part time job doesn’t pay enough, maybe it’s time to change jobs!

  • Tommy Ray McAnally says:

    PEOPLE THROW THEM ALL OUT. I WOULD NOT EXCEPT A DIME. WHY DONT YOU LEGISLATORS RE-SET THESE ILLEGALS. I FORGOT YOU PROBABLY GET PAID MORE TURNING YOUR HEAD. LEGISLATORS YOUR TIME IS UP, YOU MUST GO. LOOKS like a BIG PAY OFF ON OLE HICKORY LAKE.

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    It would be a “reimbursement” for state employees as well…..

  • John Conway says:

    I’ve stayed in Nashville many times over the years and never paid $170 a night for a hotel room. And I’ve also never stayed in a Motel 6 there either. Someone from Best Western or Hampton Inn should offer to house legislators for a reduced rate, like the AARP fare, and put this nonsense to bed (no pun intended) for this session.

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