The Minnesota Senate is upping the living allowance for outstate senators who have been struggling to find affordable housing in St. Paul during the legislative session.
"We've received quite a bit of feedback from members of the Senate...bipartisanly, that the current reimbursement for the housing allowance is inadequate to cover costs," Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Monday during a meeting of the Senate Rules Committee. "As it turns out, over half of the members are actually taking money out of their pocket to cover the costs of their lease agreement, utilities and parking."
The bipartisan rules committee voted unanimously for a resolution to increase the living expense per diem to $1,500 a month while the Senate is in session, up from the current rate of $1,200 a month. The housing allowance was last raised in 2007.
The rules committee also increased members' reimbursement for telecommunications expenses from $125 a month to $200 a month.
Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, announced in a Monday news release that he is breaking up a committee that previously oversaw money for agriculture, economic development, natural resources, the environment and energy. That committee with wide ranging influence will be broken into two.