Lt. Gov. Mallott approves per diem ballot measure

More than 32,000 signatures are needed by Jan. 16 to put it on the 2018 ballot

Alaskans who think their legislators are overpaid will get to decide the issue.

 

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott approved a ballot measure that would stop lawmakers’ expense payments if they fail to pass a state budget on time. The measure, officially called “An Act Relating to Government Accountability to the People of the State of Alaska,” would also toughen conflict-of-interest disclosure rules, prohibit most state-paid foreign travel by legislators, further restrict the ability of lobbyists to buy food and drink for lawmakers, and restrict campaign donations from foreign corporations.

Mallott’s action allows ballot measure backers — including two legislators — to start gathering signatures.

According to state law, backers must have the signatures of at least 32,127 registered voters to put the measure to voters. In order to put the measure on a 2018 ballot, they need to have those signatures before the Legislature convenes in January.

If approved by voters, the measure would halt per-diem expense payments for legislators when they fail to approve a state operating budget before the 121-day constitutional limit of the regular session.

Lawmakers are paid $50,400 per year, and per diem payments come in addition to this regular salary. They’re intended to compensate lawmakers for housing and other living expenses while in Juneau.

Another section of the ballot measure requires legislators to refrain from voting on measures if their family members or the employers of their family members have a financial interest in the legislation.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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