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The state Senate has pulled the plug on a longstanding practice of using public funds to provide snacks and meals for members under the dome.

The Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, voted 3-1 to change the policy in a meeting held over the phone Tuesday, Steinberg spokesman Mark Hedlund confirmed in an email. The decision was first reported by the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.

Under the proposal approved by the Rules Committee, members will be asked to pay $2,000 a year to cover coffee room expenses and meals when the business of the house, such as late legislative sessions, prevents lawmakers from leaving the Capitol.

"It has been a long tradition in the Senate that our coffee room provides snacks for Members on session days, and meals in situations where the Senate remains in session over normal dining hours," Steinberg wrote in a memo to committee members. "However, not all traditions can or should be maintained indefinitely; our institutional practices should reflect our best judgment as times and circumstances change."

The change came after the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the Senate spent at least $111,316 on food, including deli platters, granola and ice cream, in 2011 -- 10 percent more than it had spent the year before. On top of their salaries, senators receive tax-free payments of $143 a day to cover travel and other expenses related to their work while in Sacramento.

Senate memo on meals


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