Legislation that would eliminate the hotel portion of the per diem allowance for legislators is advancing in the Tennessee Senate after passing in the House, being recommended for passage by a vote of eight to nil in the Senate State and Local Government Committee in a Tuesday session. Senate Bill 107, sponsored by Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), would eliminate the hotel portion of the per diem allowance for those members of the General Assembly living within 50 miles of the Capitol.
The principle behind Haile's bill, which now seems certain to pass, is a sound one, especially since this writer has repeatedly called for Davidson County legislators to receive no per diem at all. The primary concern for citizens, however, as has been stated in this space before, is whether we are making running for the General Assembly an affordable option for the decent and hardworking everyday Joes and Janes that Tennesseans might like to see elected If someone lives ten miles from the Capitol, that is one thing, but what about 49? That's a long round trip every day, even with mileage paid for, and might give us one worn out legislator.
Per diem reform should definitely be addressed, but done so with realism and respect for the diversity of the House and Senate of Tennessee.