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SC: Incumbent Midlands lawmakers won’t give up ‘subsistence’ payments

By   /   December 5, 2012  /   News  /   No Comments

By Rick Brundrett | The Nerve

IT AIN’T EASY: Some South Carolina lawmakers who live near the Capitol won’t give up their per diems.

COLUMBIA — State  Rep. Todd Rutherford lives less than two miles from the statehouse, yet if he attends two days of House organizational sessions this week at the Capitol, he is eligible to receive $262 in expense payments meant to cover hotel and food costs.

The Richland County Democrat on Monday told The Nerve that while he doesn’t stay in hotels while the Legislature is in session, he nonetheless accepts the $131-per-day “subsistence” payments offered to all state lawmakers. Those payments typically total in the thousands of dollars annually for each legislator.

“To pretend that everyone who serves in government should go broke is silly,” said Rutherford, a self-employed criminal defense attorney. “What job would allow me six months off a year Tuesday through Thursday?”

The General Assembly’s regular session typically runs Tuesdays through Thursdays starting on the second Tuesday in January and ending no later than the first Thursday in June, though lawmakers usually return later to take up the governor’s vetoes and conference committee reports. The 124-member House met Tuesday for an organizational session and was scheduled to return Wednesday.

Contacted this week by The Nerve, Rutherford and other incumbent House members from Richland and Lexington counties, both Democrats and Republicans, wouldn’t commit to giving up their subsistence payments, despite pledges by at least two incoming Midlands legislators to do so.

Read the full story at The Nerve.