CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The 75-minute special session in which House lawmakers elected Tim Miley, D-Harrison, as the new speaker cost taxpayers $38,000.
The staff for House Clerk Greg Gray is in charge of calculating all expenses submitted by delegates for the special session. The office's fiscal officer Randy McCoy reported the totals Thursday.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called for the special session in June after former Speaker Rick Thompson resigned to take a cabinet-level position. If a speaker resigns, the governor is required by state law to call a special session within 10 days of the resignation.
Lawmakers earn $20,000 annually, and state law says they are also eligible for $150 a day in special session. McCoy said the House paid a little more than $14,815 in compensation.
Of the 100 delegates, only three - Republicans Troy Andes of Putnam County, Amanda Pasdon of Monongalia County and Ron Walters of Kanawha County - did not attend the session.
Any lawmaker who lives more than 50 miles from Charleston can also claim up to $131 per day for food, travel and expenses. Those who live within that radius can claim up to $55 per day.
Additionally, if a meeting is scheduled to start at noon or later, lawmakers can claim two days of expenses.
McCoy said the House spent $7,389 for mileage and $16,114 in per diem costs, for a total of about $23,500.
McCoy said he only noticed one local lawmaker who claimed a significant amount.
Delegate Brady Paxton, D-Putnam, is known for traditionally claiming the maximum allowable expense. He received about $19 for mileage and a $131 per diem, McCoy said.
Tomblin did not call the Senate to session, so the Legislature could not pass an appropriations bill. That means the House was stuck with the full cost of the special session.
Special sessions have become routine following the end of the regular legislative session. This year, Tomblin called a special session to finalize the budget and another to address several bills, most notably measures involving magistrate pay and financing for a new baseball stadium near Morgantown.
For those special sessions, the costs are more than the recent session, because there are many more staffers who must be paid, Gray recently told the Daily Mail.
Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher @dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.
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