Missouri’s Special Session costs thousands for taxpayers

Politics

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are currently in the middle of a special session on violent crime.

With legislators back inside the Capitol for an extra session, what does it cost you?

Ozarks First’s Chief Capitol Bureau Reporter Emily Manley dove into the numbers.

Currently, both the Senate and the House are on a break from the extraordinary session until after the primary election next week. If lawmakers aren’t inside the Capitol, they aren’t getting paid, but when they are in the statehouse, it costs thousands of dollars a day.

The governor asks lawmakers to consider six different provisions during the extraordinary session to reduce violent crime in the state.

Chief Clerk for the House of Representatives Dana Rademan Miller said it costs $120 a day per representative to be inside the chamber. Rademan Miller spoke with Manley over Zoom after seven House staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Anytime you meet outside of the veto session week, you’re looking at extra costs,” Rademan Miller said. “In addition to that, there is mileage allowance and that is 37 cents per mile from their home address to the Capitol and back.”

On a day that all 161 Representatives show up, it would cost $19,448.0 in per diem and $15,964.76 in transportation.

During the first day of the session on Monday, the House spent $10,320 since 86 members present out of 161 for the technical session.

Rademan Miller said a technical session is practically a house-keeping session.

“The House is allowed to conduct certain business without a quorum present,” Rademan Miller said. “We do these as a cost savings to the taxpayer so that you don’t have to have every member convened when we are actually just filling a bill.”

Senate Administrator Patrick Barker said senators are also paid $120 a day and also paid mileage.

The Senate spent around $3,600 Monday with 30 of the 31 members present for opening day of the session.

Rademan Miller said the House is estimating a three-week special session at the cost of $145,138.28, breaking down to $97,244 for members and $47,894.28 for milage.

“This session is spread out over three weeks, so when you look at that, you’re looking at about $16,000 per week in milage round trip for all members,” Rademan Miller said.

Over in the Senate, the Barker said it cost $8,951.62 for the first day the Senate convenes each week, and then the rest of the week costs $6,006.42 a day. These numbers include the part-time staffers for the Senate like the doorkeepers, chaplain and the reader.

Currently, there are three vacancies in the Senate, so the costs are different from this special session compared to last year.

Barker and Rademan Miller said the money for these payments comes from the state’s general revenue fund paid for by taxpayers.

Earlier this week, during a press conference, Gov. Parson said he doesn’t like that the state is spending the extra money, but it’s needed to save lives.

“Right now, our special session is about life,” Parson said. “It’s about trying to protect people out there. Look, I wish we weren’t spending money, but the reality of it is that this is more important than the dollar amount. Every day, you’re worried about funding when you’re in a crisis like this, but look, funding is not as important as human lives.”

Compared to past special sessions, last year’s cost nearly $57,000 between both chambers. This year is estimated to cost around $180,000. That number is estimated high, with all lawmakers being present for each session day.

Both Rademan Miller and Barker said they will not have their total expenses until the special session is over, sometime in the middle of August.

The Senate convenes Wednesday after another committee hearing on SB 1 and the House convenes next Friday.

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