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20121203_HA_ASSEMBLY_Ken_Cooley.JPGNewly elected Sacramento County Assemblyman Ken Cooley has joined six other capital-area legislators in rejecting the $142 per day in living expenses that lawmakers are entitled to while the Legislature is in session.

The decision will cost Cooley and each of the other local legislators between $25,000 and $30,000 for the upcoming year, based on the number of days that per diem was paid in 2012, records show.

Three other Sacramento-area assembly members who rejected per diem in 2012 have submitted letters to the Assembly asking to do the same for 2013: Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento; Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin; and Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.

Late Friday, the Assembly added another name to the list of those turning thumbs down to per diem for the coming legislative session: Freshman Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton.

Newly re-elected Assemblyman Richard Pan opted to begin accepting per diem last January after obtaining a second residence, in the Pocket area, to run for a newly drawn Assembly seat that had no incumbent. He has not rescinded last year's request to accept the $142 per day compensation, records show.

Senate secretary Greg Schmidt said three senators were not paid per diem for Monday's swearing in because they had not rescinded their requests from the 2012 session: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin; and Lois Wolk, D-Davis.

Husband and wife legislators Ted and Beth Gaines cumulatively are on course to forego more than $55,000 in per diem for the coming year, based on projections from 2012 expenditures.

Per diem is compensation to subsidize lawmakers' living expenses while they are staying in Sacramento, away from their homes. All lawmakers are eligible to receive it, seven days a week while the Legislature is in session, but capital-area lawmakers typically turn it down. Per diem is tax-free to those living more than 50 miles from the Capitol.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, is sworn in during the first day of session at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

(* Updated at 4:35 p.m. Friday to add Assemblywoman Susan Eggman.)


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