Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California lawmakers’ per diem allowance rises to new peak

The California State Assembly meets for an organizational session where lawmakers took the oath of office on Dec. 1, 2014.
The California State Assembly meets for an organizational session where lawmakers took the oath of office on Dec. 1, 2014. The Associated Press file

With the Capitol closed for business on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., lawmakers will gather for rare – and likely very brief – Friday floor sessions at 9 a.m., before heading home for the long weekend.

Under the state constitution, California legislators receive daily tax-free living expenses on top of their salaries, as long as they are not out of session for more than three consecutive days. While the Senate and Assembly usually meet on a Monday-Thursday schedule, moving session to today allows them to collect their per diem allowances over the holiday weekend.

The per diem rate rose slightly in October to $176, from $168 in the 2014-15 fiscal year, topping a previous peak of $173 in 2008-09. During the 2015 legislative year, lawmakers taking per diem averaged about $34,000 in payments. Several lawmakers, mostly from the Sacramento region, did not accept per diem last year.

END OF AN ERA: It’s deadline day for holdover bills from last session to make it out of policy committee in their house of origin. With a heavy slate of hearings earlier in the week, only the Assembly Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet, upon adjournment of floor session in Room 4202. On the docket are a bill to expand the use of epi-pens to treat severe allergic reactions and a resolution celebrating Roe v. Wade.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Because of a law by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, California has a new program allowing residents to recycle their used mattresses for free. The Bee took a took of a mattress recycling facility to learn more about that process and where the material goes.

A new state program aims to divert used mattresses from landfills to recycling facilities. DR3 Mattress Recycling in Woodland processes 1,000 mattresses per day from across Northern California.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, D-San Fernando, who turns 48 today.

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