Cumberland Times-News

March 31, 2014

Just like Md.

Cumberland Times-News

— An old expression refers to “feeding at the public trough.” If you’re the one who does the feeding, you probably feel differently about the phenomenon than those who are responsible for keeping the trough filled.

We recently carried a story by CNHI state reporter John Finnerty, who obtained records under a Right-to-Know request that indicated Pennsylvania’s lawmakers ran up $2 million in undocumented hotel and meals expenses. Rules allow them to collect payments for expenses even when the Legislature isn’t in session.

That’s the same amount Maryland Legislative Watch said Maryland’s taxpayers paid our legislators in mileage, meals and lodging expenses for the 2013 legislative session.

Legislation was introduced in Pennsylvania by Sen. Randy Vulakovich that would require receipts from lawmakers seeking reimbursement. He documents his expenses.

Rep. Mark Longietti countered that his job requires him to be on the road 150 to 200 nights a year, and having to keep track of all his expenses would be impractical.

Maryland State Sen. Howard Kittleman introduced a bill that would prohibit members of our General Assembly who live less than 50 miles from the State House in Annapolis from using the $101-per-day housing allowance except under certain circumstances. “I live 42 miles from Annapolis,” said Kittleman. “I go home.”

Sen. Jennie Forehand opposed the bill because “It’s kind of difficult to drive from Rockville to be here and awake at 8 o’clock for a meeting and with all that traffic.”

Kittleman’s bill, which would have saved an estimated $693,400 each year, received an unfavorable report from the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

As Miles’ Law — named after a Truman-era bureaucrat — states, where you stand on an issue depends upon where you sit.

In Maryland, our lawmakers can claim up to $101 a day for lodging and $42 for meals.

They probably could tell you that such a per-diem would go a long way in Allegany County, but in Annapolis ... maybe not so much.