Law bars extra pay during Miss. special session

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The clerk of the Mississippi House has sent a letter to leading lawmakers to remind them that state law bars them from receiving extra pay for official business during special sessions.

At least one legislative hearing has been canceled and some House members have voiced concerns that they won’t get paid when they come to Jackson to attend a meeting even though the special session is on hold till June 26.

Clerk Don Richardson wrote the letter after some members asked to be paid for attending a committee meeting that was scheduled during a special session recess.

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He reminded lawmakers they were ineligible for extra pay unless they travel out of town to legislative or governmental conferences, and only if that travel was approved before June 4.

The special session started May 21 and dragged on into last week before lawmakers declared a recess till June 26. They would be eligible for the extra pay had they simply ended the session.

Mississippi legislators are paid $10,000 during the regular session and $1,500 a month the rest of the year. They also receive a per diem for attending meetings out of session and are paid the federal rate of 50.5 cents per mile when traveling to events or meetings.

Salaries for special sessions are $75 a day.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant successfully pushed for a shorter regular session that ran from Jan. 8 to April 19 this year. He said the savings of $500,000 from that decision are helping cover the cost of the special session.

So far the special session has cost taxpayers $350,000, though House lawmakers haven’t worked as much their counterparts in the Senate. House Democrats say the 11 items Gov. Haley Barbour has put on the agenda aren’t urgent enough to be taken up during a special session.

Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, says the law won’t stop him from working for his constituents.

“It won’t affect me,” he said. “I’m going all the way to Hattiesburg on my dime.”