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With short sessions, California lawmakers keep per diem flowing

February 17, 2012 |  3:31 pm

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State senators met for less than half an hour Friday and mostly for ceremonial duties, but that was enough to ensure that the lawmakers continue to get their $141.86 in per diem expenses through the long holiday weekend.

Lawmakers get tax-free per diem every day to cover their expenses while in Sacramento and away from home, but only if the Legislature is not out of session for more than three days in a row.

The Assembly and Senate normally hold their end-of-the-week session on Thursday. But with this coming Monday being a holiday for Presidents Day, both houses had to meet Friday or they would lose per diem checks, which total about $29,000 annually. That is in addition to their $95,291 salary.

The Assembly meeting Friday lasted about 50 minutes and was dominated by discussion of a resolution marking the anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans after the outbreak of World War II.

Appearing Friday on Sacramento radio station KFBK, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) charged that the short meetings do not justify the pay lawmakers get.

She said such meetings argue in favor of her proposed initiative to make the Legislature a part-time body and cut its pay. "We work part time now, but we are paid full time," Grove said during the radio interview.

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-- Patrick McGreevy, in Sacramento

Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway confer during an Assembly session last year. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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