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Sitka representative suggests citizen commission handle legislative per diem

By Liz Raines 8:00 PM March 17, 2017

A day after the Alaska House majority changed its mind about cutting lawmakers’ per diem payments, a member of the Democrat-lead coalition introduced a bill that would place future decisions on the issue in the hands of a citizen commission — The State Officers Compensation Commission.

“The per diem issue has been hugely politicized and it seems like a common sense approach,” said Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), who introduced House Bill 181 Friday.

Kreiss-Tomkins says trying to address the issue themselves puts lawmakers in an “awkward position,” a problem HB 181 would solve.

“It completely removes legislators from being in a position where legislators set their own pay, or in this case, per diem — which I think is a vast improvement,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

The State Officers Compensation Commission is comprised of five members, who are state residents appointed by the governor. Of those members, one is appointed from a list of candidates submitted by the President of the Alaska Senate, and another member is appointed from a list of candidates submitted by the Speaker of the House.

The Commission sets the salaries of legislators, the governor, the lieutenant governor and commissioners. However, lawmakers have the power to reject what the commission recommends.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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