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Lawmakers' compensation to change Saturday

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 5:58 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY  — It's official and starts Saturday.

The way Utah's 104 legislators are reimbursed for the time they spend on Capitol Hill has now changed under a measure that received official approval Friday.

Recommended by the independent Utah Legislative Compensation Commission, HJR6 equalizes compensation discrepancies that often played out among rural lawmakers and their Salt Lake centric counterparts.

Senate sponsor Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, said the measure is about transparency and is not a move to increase lawmakers' pay, despite media reports that may have been to the contrary.

"The Legislature cannot increase its own compensation package," Okerlund said.

Under the old system, lawmakers received $117 each day they were in legislative session or on the hill for meetings. They also received $91 for lodging and $61 for meals, though few lawmakers who live in or near the Salt Lake metropolitan area had to find alternative lodging.

The new payment system ups the set per-day amount of $273 in compensation. Meals and lodging will be reimbursed up to $156 per day with proper receipts, subject to approval by legislative leadership and audits as well.

The change is expected to cost $150,000 a year.

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