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State lawmakers to limit out-of-state travel

FRANKFORT — New out-of-state travel guidelines for lawmakers are expected to cut expenses by more than a third, leaders of the General Assembly announced Tuesday.

Lawmakers will no longer receive pay while traveling the day before or after any out-of-state conferences, said a news release from Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

Also, lawmakers who are approved for travel will receive pay for only one major legislative conference each year, unless they also receive permission for additional pay while actively serving on a work group or as a scheduled speaker at an out-of-state event.

Out-of-state travel costs last year for state lawmakers were about $361,000. If the new policy had been in effect, the cost would have been about $221,000.

The changes are the result of a joint review of travel guidelines that Williams and Stumbo requested late last year with an eye toward reducing costs after media reports about the expenses.

The Herald-Leader reported last September that the state legislature spent about $2.4 million over the last three years sending lawmakers, aides and police escorts around the globe.

At the time, Williams and Stumbo said educational conferences and fact-finding trips are essential for lawmakers tackling Kentucky's problems but agreed with critics who want the legislature to be thriftier. Williams spent 101 days outside the state over the past three years on trips that cost taxpayers $42,351.

"We've spent a lot of time taking a hard look at ways to trim expenses throughout the legislative branch, and that includes travel costs," Williams, R-Burkesville, said in a statement Tuesday.

"Speaker Stumbo and I agreed that the General Assembly should take steps to hold down costs and help limit legislative travel to the most beneficial fact-finding trips and public policy seminars."

Stumbo said the new guidelines will ensure that state funds are used wisely when lawmakers receive approval from legislative leaders to attend out-of-state meetings.

"These are tough economic times, so we want to take advantage of cost savings wherever possible," said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. "The steps we're taking will result in prudent travel policies and safeguards that will save money."

The revised travel guidelines will take effect June 1.