To Quote the Solons of the Roman Empire: “Carpe Per Diem”
Normally, the Assembly and the Senate hold their second and final session of each week on Thursday mornings and lawmakers disperse to their districts.
An exception was January 14, a Friday, when both houses scheduled 9:00 am floor sessions.
It was not because of a heavy workload of legislation that required swift action.
The sessions were on a Friday because January 17 is a holiday – Martin Luther King Day.
And if there is a break of more than 72 hours between legislative sessions, California’s 120 lawmakers cannot collect per diem for those three days.
For lawmakers that live more than 50 miles from the state Capitol that is a tax-free $142 per day. Within 50 miles, it’s taxable.
Actually, the per diem is supposed to be $162 — there’s a cost-of-living increase each year – but the commission that sets legislative salaries gave lawmakers an 18 percent pay cut last year, including per diem.
That knocked the daily total down to $142.
So meeting on a Friday before a three-day weekend assures that each lawmaker who collects per diem – some don’t or contribute the money to charity – receive $426.
In fairness, lawmakers from San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles or Humboldt and Modoc are required to maintain at least some kind of crash pad in Sacramento from Monday through mid-day Thursday so there is some legitimacy for the awarding of per diem.
At least for the days spent at the state Capitol.
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