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emptysenate.JPGFireworks and barbecue for daily expenses.

That's the tradeoff members of the California Senate made this week, when the Fourth of July interrupted the schedule that usually keeps their $160-a-day per diem allocation flowing.

To claim that money, lawmakers have to meet at least every three days. Typically that allows them to convene on Thursday, head to their districts on Friday and be back on Monday in time to satisfy the rule.

When there's a Monday holiday, legislators will often meet briefly on Friday to make sure they're entitled to their per diem for the intervening days. That's what happened earlier this year on the Friday preceding President's Day weekend, for instance.

But that wasn't the case this week -- the state Capitol was bereft of lawmakers on Friday (the Assembly is out on recess), and lawmakers are forfeiting the expense payment from Thursday through Sunday, according to the secretary of the Senate's office.

PHOTO: Empty Senate chambers. The Sacramento Bee/Jeremy B. White.



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