The legislative clubhouse | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The legislative clubhouse

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 4:57 PM

A belated note on the failure yesterday of Rep. Ann Clemmer's bill to impose by law something that ought to be a simple matter of rule for all state employees and officials  -- that junketing legislators can't claim more than the cost of an air ticket or car mileage, whichever is cheaper, for a trip of more than 500 miles.

The bill was prompted by some exposure last year of round-the-country caravans by legislators and family. They racked up big mileage reimbursements and hotel and meal bills for leisurely drives around the country en route to legislative conferences (of dubious value in the first place.)

The bill failed on a voice vote though the sound of the voices seemed to be favorable. Why no roll call? One of my lobbyist friends insists the fix was in. Members were welcome to say "aye," so they could honestly claim a good government vote to constitutents. But a roll call? And force an end to a practice that some legislators have practiced for years and do not intend to give up? Not bloody likely. Not if the legislator who called for a roll call ever hoped to pass another piece of legislation. Or so it was told to me.

The analysis has a credible ring to it. It's another reason why live broadcasting of committee meetings would be so interesting at times and why a bill to allow that went exactly nowhere.

UPDATE: Jason Tolbert offers a link to Clemmer's presentation of the bill.

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