Political paychecks

Posted February 23, 2012 3:01 p.m. EST

Even though lawmakers met for a total of 20 minutes and voted on nothing last week, nearly a third of them accepted their per diems for the three days of the session.

According to legislative controller Wesley Taylor, 49 lawmakers have accepted $104/day per diems for the three-day session that started Thursday, Feb. 16th. No votes were taken that day. They didn't meet at all on Friday. And a handful in each chamber met in skeleton session Saturday to adjourn till their April meeting. 

The per diem is separate from travel expenses. It's meant to cover food and lodging while lawmakers are in Raleigh. 

Twenty senators accepted their checks: Republicans Austin Allran, Tom Apodaca, Phil Berger, Warren Daniel, Don East, Fletcher Hartsell, Ralph Hise, Buck Newton, Bill Rabon, David Rouzer, Bob Rucho, Dan Soucek, Richard Stevens, Jerry Tillman, and Wes Westmoreland (appointed to replace Clary); and Democrats Ellie Kinnaird, Floyd McKissick, Martin Nesbitt, Gladys Robinson, and Don Vaughn.  

In the House, 29 lawmakers took their per diems: Democrats Kelly Alexander, Marcus Brandon, Angela Bryant, Jim Crawford, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, Rosa Gill, Larry Hall, Suzi Hamilton, Verla Insko, Mickey Michaux, Annie Mobley, Rodney Moore, Diane Parfitt, Earline Parmon, Joe Tolson, Wiliam Wainwright, and Michael Wray; and Republicans Bill Brawley, Harold Brubaker, George Cleveland, John Faircloth, Julia Howard, Linda Johnson, Stephen LaRoque, James Langdon, Darrell McCormick, Tim Moore, Phil Shepard, and Edgar Starnes. 

This list could change, Taylor cautioned. 

"There’s no timeframe to not accept, or accept," he explained. "Members only need to let us know their request to return their per diem. We’ll work with the Member to return the reimbursement." 

The 121 lawmakers who refused their per diems lowered the cost of the session by about 12 thousand dollars per day, from an estimated $50,000 to $37,500. But given that the sessions were held on two days, the cost of last week's session seems likely to have exceeded $50,000.