The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 24, 2013

Legislation would require receipts from Pa. lawmakers

HARRISBURG — State Rep. Dan Truitt, a Republican from Chester County, has more than a dozen co-sponsors for a bill that he will soon introduce to eliminate the use of unvouchered expense reimbursements claimed by lawmakers for meals and lodging, typically when they travel to Harrisburg.

In the most extreme cases, lawmakers racked up more than $25,000 last year by billing the state when they traveled from their home districts.

The House was in session just 67 days in 2012 and the Senate was in session 59 days. But some lawmakers claimed reimbursements more than 100 times, including days when they traveled to committee sessions.

Truitt said his legislation would require that lawmakers submit receipts for reimbursement for their travel expenses.

His legislation would not bar lawmakers from claiming those expenses.

The per diems are intended to compensate those lawmakers who represent districts that are hours from Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania is one of 45 states that allow lawmakers to request compensation for unvouchered expenses. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island do not allow lawmakers to claim per diems, according to information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The biggest payments were made to western Pennsylvania lawmakers. Rep. Dominic Costa, a Democrat

from Allegheny County, was paid $25,596 for 146 per diem requests in 2012. Rep. Chris Sainato, a  Democrat from Lawrence County was paid $24,306 for 162 per diem requests, according to information obtained by filing a Right to Know request.

Rep. Mark Longietti, Hermitage, D-7th District, was paid $21,867 for 130 per diem requests; Rep. Dick Stevenson, Grove City, R-8th District, received $13,402 for 82 per diem requests; Rep. Michele Brooks, Jamestown, R-17th District, received $8,802 for 54 requests; and Sen. Robert D. “Bob” Robbins, Salem Township, R-50th District, received $12,407 for 92 per diems.

Longietti, whose per diem pay for the last two-year session ranked fourth highest in the state House, told The Herald last week that the money he received is the result of actively representing his constituents 250 miles away from the capital.

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