TNReport recently published a pair of stories focused on Nashville-area lawmakers who accept thousands annually in allowances meant to cover lodging, meals and other incidental expenses. The legislators live so close to the Capitol that they rarely stay in hotel rooms for legislative business, but for the most part they still accept the $185 per diems. (Sens. Douglas Henry and Diane Black and Rep. Mike Stewart return a portion or all of their payments to the state.)
The lawmakers grow accustomed to the extra cash, and many of those interviewed by TNReport seemed not to see the underlying issue — taking money for hotels when they lay down their heads at home — and referred to the allowances as bonus income for the hours they spend in committees crafting laws and trying to fix budget shortfalls.
TNReport readers from places farther away from Nashville can also check out their legislators’ per diems, as well as mileage payments and travel spending, at the Legislative Administration website. It’s not a perfect gauge for how many days your lawmaker has put in because some legislators say they don’t claim the allowance for every day they work. But it should give you a rough idea. The online data goes back to January 2009.
Not sure who represents you? Type in your address to this “Find My Legislator” database, and the online service will tell you.