The per diem bill affecting Tennessee legislators living within a 50-mile radius of the Capitol passed the Senate 28-2, but only after being amended, which will send it back to the House for reconciliation.
The Senate on Thursday substituted its own SB107 for HB80, which passed 72-15 earlier this month, but added an amendment from the State and Local Government Committee that changes the reimbursement for lodging on the occasion area lawmakers stay in Nashville instead of returning home.
The amendment uses the lodging allowance granted to federal employees instead of the actual costs of a hotel room, as in the House version, said Sen. Ken Yager, chair of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. That would keep their lodging payment at $107 a day, contingent on individual approval from the speaker of their respective chamber.
According to the bill, lawmakers whose primary residence is within a 50-mile radius of the Capitol would no longer automatically receive $107 a day for a hotel room, but instead would receive mileage reimbursement at 46 cents a mile. This would apply to each legislative day in Nashville or any day, except Friday, that the lawmaker participates in any other activity in Nashville and would be limited to one round trip per day.
Legislators would continue to receive $66 a day for meals and incidentals.
The House and Senate versions must now be reconciled before the legislation can go to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.
Neither of the two Republican senators who voted against the bill – Dolores Gresham of Somerville and Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga – live within the 50-mile radius.
According to the bill’s fiscal note, HB80 would save the state $253,616, based on figures from in 2012, when 33 legislators lived within 50 miles of the Capitol.
If the bill becomes law, the change will not impact sitting legislators, just those elected in 2014 forward.