Hickenlooper signs lawmaker per diem hike into law

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DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed a bill to increase the amount of taxpayer money given to some state lawmakers on a daily basis to cover living expenses during the legislative session.

Lawmakers living more than 50 miles away from the Capitol — 41 of the 100 members of the General Assembly — will now get $183 a day, a $33 daily increase from the $150 they’ve been receiving to cover gas, rent and other expenses incurred traveling between Denver and their home districts.

In 2010, lawmakers voted to put per diem increases on hold for two years because of budget cuts — and a few lawmakers still opposed this year’s legislation because of the state’s ongoing fiscal shortfalls.

Not all lawmakers collect per diem when the legislature is in session. Those who do so for all 120 days can collect up to $18,000 for rural lawmakers or up to $5,400 for metro area lawmakers — that per diem coming on top of their $30,000 legislative salary also paid by the state.

The daily $45 per diem rate for metro area lawmakers is not being changed.

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