A bill that would raise the per diem rate for lawmakers when the legislature is not in session as well as members of various state boards and commissions has passed a committee vote and is now headed to the full Senate.

House Bill 227 would raise the daily per diem from the current $109 per day to $151 in most parts of Wyoming, with automatic annual adjustments every July 1. The bill as it currently stands would not apply to lawmakers when the legislature is in session but would apply to travel expenses for lawmakers when not in session.

The vote in the Senate Travel, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Committee was 4-1 in favor of the bill. The lone no vote, Senator Tom James [R-Sweetwater County] was vocal in his opposition to House Bill 227. James said he personally has never had a problem finding a hotel room for less than $60 a night, noting he doesn't stay at ''really fancy places."

James also said ''$109 is plenty" to meet daily expenses. He said of serving in the legislature that ''nobody forces us to do it."

But James fellow Sweetwater County Senator, Lisa Anselmi-Dalton [D-Rock Springs] disagreed with James, saying serving in the legislature is expensive and that "none of us are getting rich."

Committee chair Sen. Ogden Driskill [R-Devils Tower said there are other expenses besides just the cost of hotel rooms, adding that he had paid $8.00 for breakfast at McDonald's, and the other two meals of the day tend to be more expensive.

James said most towns have grocery stores, and that buying bread and meat or cheese for sandwiches is not very expensive. ''This is the taxpayers' money," James said.

The bill now moves on to the full Senate.

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