Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced significant reforms to the Assembly Member Travel Policy involving the reimbursement of members for travel expenses incurred in the performance of their official legislative duties.
“Shortly after I was elected Speaker, my colleagues and I pledged to review the Assembly travel per diem policy,” said Speaker Heastie. “Today, we’re delivering on our promise, consistent with legislation enacted during the budget process, and instituting new rules that will apply to members when the Assembly is not in session. We believe these new policies will provide increased transparency and greater accountability to the process by which members are reimbursed for their actual travel expenses.
“The overwhelming majority of the members of the Assembly are men and women of integrity and honor and these new rules will reflect our house’s commitment to the highest standards of accountability for the public resources entrusted in us,” added Heastie.
The Assembly’s revised travel policy establishes new reimbursement requirements for travel that occurs when the regular session is not scheduled. Travel during this time will require the approval of the Speaker if a member wants to exceed the maximum number of allowed trips.
These new rules continue reimbursement rates established by federal regulations, $172 per full day per diem allowance for lodging, meals, and incidentals and $61 per partial day per diem for meals and incidentals, and limits off-session trips to 30 of which only 20 can be for the full per diem.
Reimbursement for transportation costs, including train and airline tickets, tolls, mileage and car rental costs that exceed the 30 trips permitted when the Assembly is not in regular session, must be approved by the Speaker.
Travel to Albany for regular, special or extraordinary session as well as to attend public hearings conducted by Assembly committees and taskforces will not require the Speaker’s authorization.
Today’s new travel policies build on the reforms announced by Speaker Heastie last month when the Assembly established acceptable verification forms to document a member’s presence in Albany on the days he or she claim a per diem. Among the acceptable forms of verification are electronic systems recording a member’s vote in committee, session attendance and a swipe machine in the Assembly’s Legislative Office Building.
Other approved forms of verification are E-Z Pass documents, a member’s recorded presence at an Assembly public hearing or roundtable and dated receipts from hotels and restaurants in the Albany region.