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Friday, June 10, 2005

Blogs push policy change

It's amazing what people can accomplish when they have access to information. About two weeks ago (May 28) I wrote a post about how much legislators really get paid for the work they do. I still haven't touched on some of the other perks-but I'll get there sometime.

I mentioned in the 5/28 post how some legislators abuse the per diem allowance by coming into the office for only short periods of time or making a few phone calls (many times personal) and then picking up a full day allowance of $141.00.

I'm not taking any credit for the big news I have for you. I just wanted you to know that many of you who picked up the information and ran with it, scored a touchdown so to speak.

Although there are many, two examples of the information flow: Mark Rose at the site Right Minded wrote a column on 6/6 for the Lebanon Democrat newspaper in which he discussed my post and per diem expenses for legislators. He posted the column on his site. Here locally, I heard a caller mention the per diem expenses on a Sunday radio show in Knoxville.

Are you wondering what the news is which just arrived from high places in Nashville? Legislators are now required to give a clear explanation of the work performed and/or the meetings attended that reflect clear legislative purpose that would allow them to collect the per diem money.

This is a great start. I would have hoped for a limit to the number of days money can be collected and I fear someone could just say “I'm working for my constituents” to cover the reason, but I hope this is just a start.

Good job everyone.


  1. Amazing how the bugs scurry when you turn on the light.

    Of course we all know what the big bribes are- hiring legislators. Sometimes it's a "job"- like Crutchfield's $50,000= to act as attorney for the school board- and sometimes it's a consultancy. Sometimes it's the spouse, child, parent, or combination thereof who is hired. But there are damned few legislators whose income remains their legislative fees and just their pre election jobs.

    The ones who want to sell themselves will always find a way. The idea behind ethics talk is to promote systems that make dishonesty more difficult and discourage dishonesty by making it pay less.

    Oh for the day when thieves are shunned in our legislator instead of being applauded or elected to leadership positions.

    If it ever comes, it will be in some part due to this blog's breaking the code of silence in the capitol.

  2. These crooks are all elected by "we the people". What is wrong with "we the people"?

  3. It isn't "we the people" who is the problem, it is the system. Change the system, elimanate the problem. Get rid of per diem.

    In California, everyone comes in for 15 minutes of Friday, then they leave. Yes, they get the per diem. I hate it. Have you ever tried to ask someone to give up their money? We have. They turned it over to a "committee."

    We are running on empty, but the "committee" saw fit to give them an $11,000 per year raise. I am disgusted.

    I am glad you have found some small way to put the word "shame" back into the vocabulary. Good for all of you.

  4. Rosemary,

    These crooks have been elected time and again by "we the people". The "alleged" head crook had been elected for 30 years and the leaders in Memphis said they would vote for him again if possible. We can't legislate morals. If a person is elected and is just getting by financially then he shows up with $100.00 haircuts, $1000.00 suits, etc - WHAT? "We the people" reelect them! I know legislators that have been there for years and are just getting by.

  5. Well, since "we the people" elect representatives that only listen to "we the lobbyists" then maybe "we the people" should have our own lobbyist that seem to get things done better than our elected representatives. Also, the committee system is being used by Naifeh as a bill killer and nothing else.

  6. I have heard of a solution and lets see what the forum thinks. How about NO PER DIEM, NO MILEAGE, NO NOTHING EXTRA. Just combine all the hidden perks and whatnot and combine it all into one salary. I belive it may come to around $30,000 per year. Maybe more but this is my rought estimate. I support this measure because it will make it more attractive to people. For instance, it is easier to get someone to work for $30,000 than for $16,500. Although this is unfair to the far distance members, but maybe some type of deal where those who have to live in hotel are reimbursed or something. What do you think the policy should be rep?

  7. set the number of per diem days to a max of 52 a year for reg reps (45 days of session + up to 7 more for what ever) 60 for both party leaders and their top 3 people after that you pay your own way ,Per diem should be 50.00 if you live W/I 50 miles of the capitol .milage is fair ,call the office money what it is ,bonus money . Session would end in 45 days (or less) in 1 or 2 years at most. the number of bad bills would dry up and go away there would be a much more business mood less play time,less silly wastefull summer study committees and only people who came for the right reasons would come back.

  8. What about special sessions? Would you have to amend to create them? That would only leave 7 days for special sessions. For huge issues, income tax, tenncare, ethics, etc.it may need special session. What then? No per diem? I agree with the mileage thing

  9. Those issues should be done in the 45 days .We worked on all those (except income tax ,and we dont need that any way)this year and no one did much on them ,this was not for lack of time.If we reward bad or slow work we will get more of it. If special session is needed come with ideas and a plan.

  10. Just for clarification, limited per diem and no special session per diem pay would reduce "silly" bills and force legislators to concentrate only on important ones?

    The only problem I have is that what you may consider silly, another legislator may feel is important. Besides carry private acts as a courtesy, I don't think many legislators propose "silly" bills. I know many try to push bills through that they no will fail year after year. (Harmon and significant teacher raise) Is it wrong to try to push through bills you believe will fail?

  11. 66
    bills that are brought up and then droped by the legislator at first committee or before just so the sponcer can say they brought such and such bills forward with no intent of pushing or passing it, is a waste of time.


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