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Putnam delegates vary in legislative reimbursement expenses

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The four state legislators who live in Putnam County collected widely varying amounts of expense money during the recent 60-day regular session.

Democrat Brady Paxton, a longtime member of the House of Delegates, collected more than $8,000.

The other three Putnam lawmakers, all Republicans, claimed far less.

Sen. Mike Hall was next at $3,729, followed by Delegate Troy Andes at $2,365. Newly elected Sen. Chris Walters sought no expense reimbursement.  

Members of the state Legislature receive annual salaries of $20,000 each. In addition they may seek reimbursement for expenses within certain guidelines.

Unless they choose to commute, legislators can receive $131 per day to cover lodging, meals and other expenses during the 60-day regular session. They also can collect mileage payments for one round trip home each week, at 47 cents per mile.

Lawmakers who commute can claim up to $55 a day for expenses plus mileage, but their payments cannot exceed $131 a day.

None of the 11 House of Delegates members or three state senators who live in Kanawha County claimed expenses during the session.

Paxton apparently stayed in Charleston rather than commute from his home in Liberty about 30 miles from the Capitol Complex. He collected $357 in mileage plus $7,860, the maximum allowed, for other expenses during the 60-day session.

Andes, who lives in Hurricane about 28 miles from the Capitol, collected $2,365 for expenses but did not claim mileage costs.

On the Senate side, Hall commuted from his Winfield home and collected $1,034 in mileage reimbursements and $2,695 for other expenses throughout the regular and special sessions.

Deputy Senate Clerk Lee Cassis said Hall also attended a conference in Washington, D.C., during the session. He received $1,601 to cover expenses for the four-day trip.

Walters, who lives in Poca, represents a newly configured district that includes parts of both Kanawha and Putnam counties.  

While complete payment information for the House was not available on Wednesday, the Senate Clerk's Office provided the Daily Mail with a complete list of member expenses.

In all, the state spent $275,340 on senators' expenses for the regular and special sessions.

Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, collected the most, at $11,900. Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, received the second-highest sum at $11,320.

Per diem payments made up most of that money - Unger collected $9,039 while Blair collected $9,170 - but those two senators' mileage costs also were among the highest in the Senate.

Unger was reimbursed $2,867 for his travels during the sessions. Blair received $2,150 in mileage. Both men claim Martinsburg as their hometown, a 600-mile round-trip drive from Charleston.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

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