How Much Mileage Can We Get Out Of This? (Updated & Bumped)

by Steve MacDonald

Update! – The Democrats claim they needed the Monday Caucus so that both sides could give their views on the Casino Bill, and that this was a legitimate purpose for which they could exact a mileage reimbursement on a Monday, but Wednesday morning of the same week, before the session and vote on the Casino Bill,  the Democrats held a caucus at which they discussed…. the Casino bill.  Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan even came to that Caucus to make her final pitch for the legislation.

Original post Follows…

From the Concord Fish Wrapper…

“Please remember that mileage reimbursement will only be paid for travel on Mondays and Fridays for statutory committees which meet on those days,” Norelli wrote in the April 26 edition of the House Calendar.

But this Monday, House Democrats held a closed-door caucus that didn’t appear in last week’s calendar. Norelli’s spokesman, Mario Piscatella, said the caucus was held to discuss the casino bill, with members on both sides of the issue presenting their views followed by a discussion.

That doesn’t sound like a statutory committee.  And yet 78 Democrats–the attendees of the “Caw!-cus” –all requested mileage reimbursement.

Six other Republicans and four other Democrats were also listed for reimbursements for other purposes, according to the Fish Wrapper.

Norelli’s excuse for allowing the Democrat “Caw!-cus” attendees to claim mileage was that the move was to keep costs down not prevent legislators from doing their jobs.  And if Republicans held a caucus on a Monday, they could get mileage as well.

So it’s not exactly a rule, but more of a guideline.

Minority Leader Gene Chandler, a Bartlett Republican, didn’t have an immediate comment on the flap. But for the record, he was one of the 10 representatives who listed non-caucus reasons for mileage reimbursement Monday.

“Leadership traditionally gets paid,” he explained.

Maybe leadership on both sides should lead by example and not get paid on those days as directed by the Speaker, except for statutory committees.  Or perhaps the Speaker should clarify the rules for mileage to include these other things?  Or should we just call these legislative perques or how about waivers? Or was the “rule” more for show, for the press, to give the illusion of fiscal prudence where none actually exists?

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