There have been a couple of comments in the ``Word of Mouth'' section of the Empire regarding, HB 279, legislation I introduced to require state employees who accrue frequent flyer miles while on state business to utilize the resulting benefits on subsequent state travel.
This legislation has two purposes. First, to save the State of Alaska on travel expenses by utilizing travel awards earned by state employees on subsequent state travel, instead of being utilized by employees for personal use. Second, some travel agents have indicated state employees may not be selecting the least expensive carrier option when traveling on state business because they want to accrue frequent flyer miles on their preferred carrier.
The State of Alaska spent almost $15 million on transportation in fiscal year 1998. In the first two quarters of fiscal year 1999, transportation costs reached almost $7.5 million. The incentives earned while on state travel are rightfully the property of the State of Alaska and should be utilized for the benefit of the state. The federal government requires federal employees to utilize frequent flyer miles accrued on official travel to be utilized for the benefit of the federal government.
Opponents indicate state employees travel on their own time and are not compensated with overtime so they should get the frequent flyer miles to compensate them for their extra time. First, salaried employees are not entitled to overtime compensation. This is the standard utilized in the private sector. Second, travel often occurs during the normal work hours.
Additionally, people have questioned whether this legislation applies to legislators. HB 279 applies to all state employees - including members of the Alaska State Legislature.
Rep. Andrew Halcro