Rep. Dee Richard (No Party – Thibodaux) wants to freeze per diem payments to legislators for the next two years. That is to say, Rep. Richard does not want to eliminate the payments, but suspend the growth of those payments by putting a pay-ceiling on them.
The House and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the measure on a 9-7 vote after a motion to kill the idea died on a 9-8 vote.House Bill 1390 now heads to the House floor.“If we cannot live with $159 per diem, I shouldn’t say shame but….,” said state Rep. Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, trailing off at the end of his sentence.“I want to do something to show the Legislature wants to do something to reduce some of our costs,” said Richard, noting the state’s budget problems.Per diem is the money lawmakers get to cover expenses while they are in session, attending interim committee meetings, legislative conferences and the like. The amount is tied to the rate federal employees receive when traveling in the Baton Rouge area.The per diem amount is adjusted annually with the federal rate. Today, per diem is $159. It has risen from $113 in 2005.Richard’s House Bill 1390 would freeze the $159 from July 1 to July 1, 2012.