(NASHVILLE) – State Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) filed legislation today to end expense account payment for lodging for state legislators who live within 50 miles of Tennessee’s State Capitol Building. Haile said Senate Bill 107 is a big step forward in reforming the per diem system through which members receive reimbursement for expenses.
“I should not be reimbursed for a hotel stay if I sleep in my own bed at night,” said Senator Haile. “This legislation would end reimbursement for lodging for those who live within a 50-mile commuting distance to the State Capitol Building.”
“We are accountable to the taxpayers, and we felt it was time to change the system,” Haile added. “This fulfills a promise I made to file this legislation as my first bill of the 2013 legislative session.”
The state law that provides for the reimbursement of legislator expenses is not a permissive statute, meaning reimbursement of the expense account is not optional. If a member chooses to reimburse the state for their expense account payment, they must write a check to the state; however, they still are required to pay taxes on the full amount to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS considers the per diem payment for those living within 50 miles of the State Capitol as income, meaning affected lawmakers must pay federal taxes on it in accordance with their guidelines.
Other Senate sponsors of the bill include Senators Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville), Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Mark Green (R-Clarksville). The bill will be sponsored by Representative Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) in the House of Representatives.