Legislators who live outside the Des Moines metro get reimbursed for mileage when they travel to the statehouse for meetings. But recent budget-cutting means that mileage reimbursement is not in effect for legislative meetings this fall and five of the 14 members of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee did not attend Tuesday’s meeting in Des Moines. Committee members were given the option of joining the meeting by phone, although there were long distance charges to the lawmaker for the call.
Only one member of the committee — Representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield — opted to join by phone. One of the people scheduled to speak to the Oversight Committee was out of town and chose to speak to the panel by phone, too. But Senator Rich Olive, the co-chairman of the committee, struggled to adjust the sound system so people in the hearing room in Des Moines could hear Eric Tabor of the Attorney General’s Office over the horrible, high-pitched feedback.
The five legislators who were absent from yesterday’s meeting were Senators Ron Wieck of Sioux City and Steve Sodders of State Center and Representatives Deborah Berry of Waterloo; and Wesley Whitead of Sioux City. Representative Kent Sorenson of Indianola was late in arriving for the meeting. Senator Sodders, a deputy sheriff, was conducting a D.A.R.E. event in a fifth grade classroom at the time of the statehouse meeting.
Legislators who live outside the Des Moines metro generally are reimbursed, 39 cents per mile, when they travel to Des Moines or elsewhere for legislative committee meetings.
(This story was updated at 11:30 pm)