The 2012 Legislature will likely address lawmakers' per diem expenses, to determine who should receive a $49 payment, or a larger $122 payment, House Minority Leader John Rusche said today.
In a blog posted at the Idaho Democratic Party website, the Lewiston lawmaker said, "To be clear up front, I do get a per diem payment of $122 per day during the legislative session to offset the cost of maintaining a second residence. ...
"I think that the rules are fairy clear — those from over 50 miles away get a higher per diem but it is not income or added into pension amounts. Those from inside 50 miles get the lower ($49) amount, but it is treated, by IRS rules, as income and is taxed. I think commuting costs should be considered covered by the per diem.
"What I thought was clear obviously is not. We will be addressing this during the session I am sure."
The per diem issue generated statewide controversy after the Associated Press wrote about two Canyon County senators, Curt McKenzie of Nampa and John McGee of Caldwell, who received the higher payments. McKenzie spent nights sleeping on a couch in his Boise law office. McGee spent some nights sleeping at his parents' Boise home.
• Here is a link to Rusche's full newsletter.
• Here's a link to a guest opinion from McKenzie.
• Here is a link to my blog advocating getting rid of the per-diem plan.