February 2, 2011

Many lawmakers could lose hotel perk under proposed bill

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By Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com

Many members of the General Assembly could lose their lodging reimbursements under a bill being introduced by Sen. Allan Kittleman that would eliminate the perk for any legislator who lives less than 50 miles from the State House.

“We’re asking state workers to accept furloughs and benefit cuts,” Kittleman said. “But we’re still letting legislators who live 10 miles away stay in hotels.”

Governor Calvert House hotel on State Circle.

Legislators are eligible to have the state reimburse $100 a day for the full 90 calendar days of the Assembly session. According to Karl Aro, executive director of the Department of Legislative Service, 149 lawmakers out of 188 (79%) have confirmed 90-day contracts this year.

This means state taxpayers will be paying at least $1.3 million this year for legislators staying in Annapolis hotels, apartments and homes, even when they live within commuting distance.

“To have people rent a house for 90 days who live within 50 miles is not fair,” said Kittleman, a Republican from West Friendship in Howard County, who admitted he rented a house his first year as a senator. “I don’t think taxpayers should pay for it.”

During most of the 90 days, the legislature and its committees work from Monday night through Friday, and almost all of the delegates and senators return home on the weekends. Legislators are allowed mileage reimbursement for travel back and forth from their home district.

“We’re still paying for those nights for those hotel rooms to be vacant,” Kittleman said.

Legislators also get a $42 per diem for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for which they do not have to file receipts. They must for any kind of lodging.

The lodging reimbursement, based on the Internal Revenue Service standard, has been going down in recent years. In 2009, it was $126 a night.

According to the 2010 report of the General Assembly Compensation Commission, in fiscal 2009, the state reimbursed legislators $439,000 for meals and $1.8 million for lodging. The figure will be lower this year because of the reduced daily rate.

Kittleman said the House speaker and Senate president could grant exemptions to his bill, and he would even be comfortable with a blanket exemption for all lawmakers on Monday nights, when the session starts at 8 p.m.

No room in the inn for these legislators

In 2009, according to Legislative Services, 20 legislators claimed no lodging expenses at all.

  • Sen. John C. Astle
  • Sen. James E. DeGrange
  • Sen. Nathaniel Exum
  • Sen. Janet H. Greenip
  • Sen. Andrew P. Harris
  • Sen. Richard S. Madeleno
  • Sen. Douglas J. Peters
  • Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire
  • Del. Curtis Anderson
  • Del. Kumar P. Barve
  • Speaker Michael E. Busch
  • Del. Donald H. Dwyer
  • Del. Ron A. George
  • Del. James W. Hubbard
  • Del. Tony A. McConkey
  • Del. Brian K. McHale
  • Del. Justin D. Ross
  • Del. Theodore J. Sophocleus
  • Del. Melvin L. Stukes
  • Del. Joseph F. Vallario

A dozen legislators claimed only occasional lodging expenses.

  • Sen. David R. Brinkley
  • Sen. Joan Carter Conway
  • Sen. Ulysses Currie
  • Sen. Royden P. Dyson
  • Sen. Brian E. Frosh
  • Sen. Paul G. Pinsky
  • Sen. James C. Rosapepe
  • Del. Pamela G. Beidle
  • Del. Robert A Costa
  • Del. Charles W. Frick
  • Del. Nicholas R. Kipke
  • Del. Steven R. Schuh
  • postman1

    Got to appreciate Senator Kittleman for introducing this. Unfortunately, I expect nothing much will happen to this as the vast majority of Senators and Delegates and State Elected Officials all the way up to the Governor do not believe in “leading by example” but rather choose to lead by “do as I say, not as I do” adage.

  • How much do state delegates and senators get paid? I could understand reimbursing them for travel, lodging, and food if they were doing this as volunteer work…

  • Rpettingill

    Len,

    Symbolic but Alan needs to be complimented for introducing this legislation. This is just one example of many that need illumination and curtailment. Did you know that a state employee of 10+ years of service gets 42 paid days off for vacation, personal, holidays + the Gov’s Special this year of 5 extra days for the furloughed days of the past years. This beats the French which is considered to be the most liberal world wide. How many days do you give your employees off each year with pay? Or even more impoortantly, how many paid days per year do you get off? Senator K is on the right track but it is only the beginning….a tip to the ice berg that is about to melt away unless our governments get courageous and really start addressing all the excesses that have been built up for far to long…..Republicans and Democrats alike have particpated in the taxpayers give away.
    Dick Pettingill

  • Len Lazarick

    To John Walters: Senators and delegates make $43,500 a year.

  • Incredibly amusing to not see the Senators name on the list for 2009! Principle is one thing, unbridled political ambition is something else entirely!

  • Charles Carey

    Ned Carey,who ran fo the state senate from distrct 31,had trhis as part of his platform.Sen. Kittleman should give credit where credit id due.

  • Dougr33

    Folks:
    Visitor DeTocqueville was correct.
    The Free State is just what he envisioned.
    When oh when will lawmakers learn to be legislators they shouldn’t be full time employees of the public.
    There are many other better paying jobs the state has available. There are many even better paying opportunities in the private sector, if only the lawmakers wouldn’t tax them so heavily.
    Statesmen serve for reasons lawmakers just can’t comprehend.
    ‘The Road to Serfdom’ is paved by lawmakers, not statesmen. That is the reason for the Road’s name!
    Who would have guessed this Free State has become a Serfdom!
    Maryland My Maryland — so goes that melody, yet who remember its words?
    Doug Ritchie
    no relation to 4 term Democrat Governor Albert C. Ritchie 1920-1936.