Poor Nelson. He apparently believes he’s not getting paid enough to hang out on Jones Street every day spending OUR MONEY. He, Pat Hurley and Rayne Turner have introduced HB 71 entitled AN ACT TO INCREASE LEGISLATOR SUBSISTENCE AND TRAVEL ALLOWANCES TO MATCH THE 2017 FISCAL YEAR GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE MAXIMUM PER DIEM RATE AS REVISED ON JUNE 30, 2016, AND THE 2016 INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE BUSINESS STANDARD MILEAGE RATE, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM EVALUATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.
Translation: These, um, “honorables” think they need more of our money transferred from our wallets to theirs. Here are the gory details:
[…] In addition to compensation for their services, members of the General Assembly shall be paid the following allowances:
(1) A weekly travel allowance for each week or fraction thereof that the General Assembly is in regular or extra session. The amount of the weekly travel allowance shall be calculated for each member by multiplying the actual round-trip mileage from that member’s home to the City of Raleigh by the rate per mile which is the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service in
Rev. Proc. 93-51, December 27, 1993.IR-2015-137, December 17, 20 2015.
(2) A travel allowance at the rate which is the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service in
Rev. Proc. 93-51, December 27, 1993, IR-2015-137, December 17, 2015, whenever the member travels, whether in or out of session, as a representative of the General Assembly or of its committees or commissions, with the approval of the Legislative Services Commission. (3) A subsistence allowance for meals and lodging at a daily rate equal to the 2017 fiscal year maximum per diem rate for federal employees traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina, as set out at 58 Federal Register 67959 (December 22, 1993), noticed by the General Services Administration at 81 Federal Register 54805 (August 17, 2016), while the General Assembly is in session and, except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, while the General Assembly is not in session when, with the approval of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the case of Representatives or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 34 case of Senators, the member is:
a. Traveling as a representative of the General Assembly or of its committees or commissions, or
b. Otherwise in the service of the State.
A member who is authorized to travel, whether in or out of session, within the United States outside North Carolina, may elect to receive, in lieu of the amount provided in the preceding paragraph, a subsistence allowance of
twenty-six dollars ($26.00) fifty-one dollars ($51.00) a day for meals, plus actual expenses for lodging when evidenced by a receipt satisfactory to the Legislative Services Officer, the latter not to exceed either the 2017 fiscal year maximum per diem rate for federal employees traveling to the same place, as set out at 58 Federal Register 67950-67964 (December 22, 1993) and at 59 Federal Register 23702-23709 (May 6, 1994).noticed by the General Services Administration at 81 Federal Register 54805 (August 17, 2016) for locations within the contiguous United States or the maximum per diem rate as set out by the Department of Defense at 81 Federal Register 42673 (June 30, 2016) for locations within the United States but outside the contiguous United States.
(4) A member may be reimbursed for registration fees as permitted by the Legislative Services Commission[…]
Soooo — they want to be treated as full-time federal employees when they are nothing of the sort. You have to love all that language about how they STILL get paid even if the legislature is not in session. (Hey, I’d like to get paid on Saturdays and Sundays too. And at night. While attending cocktail parties and fundraisers. Yep.)
This is being proposed while they have been sitting around doing JACK for the last month. Collecting pay and per diem the whole time, too. (Check the General Assembly web site.) We’ve written extensively about these guys and gals buying themselves new clothes, cars, expensive vacations, big fancy meals, and condos — among other things — with their campaign funds. Why on Earth do they need to hit us up for MORE?
I also love the little item about getting paid “when acting as a legislator.” They have special car license tags for their cars and those of their immediate family members that get them out of all kinds of traffic infraction trouble. The excuse? They are always acting as legislators. So – using that logic and taking this legislation into account — the meter will always be running. *KA-CHING!*
In the Internet age, you can cut down on a lot of this travel with webinars and teleconferences. (That sure does put a crimp in your ability to have those sneaky smoke-filled backroom meetings though, huh?) You could do like Texas and a number of other states and limit the time of legislative sessions. They have wasted a lot of time on Jones Street so far. And I guarantee you we will have pure chaos and panic in June as the budget deadline nears.
Kill this abomination in its cradle. This is the textbook definition of SHAMEFUL.