by Max Brantley
Legislative monthly expense reimbursements are processed the first business day of the month, which was today. As I'd mentioned earlier, I expected a few changes as a result of the lawsuit arguing that the regular monthly unitemized expense checks most legislators were drawing amounted to unconstitutional salary supplements. (Many style them as payments to family companies for office expenses, but they are issued in standard amounts, the same month after month.)
The list of exceptions isn't long — 89 still have "contracts" claiming the full reimbursement amount allowed. (That legislators sign up for the reimbursements before any expenses are incurred tells you a little about the nature of the practice.) These 11 are exceptions
* Rep. Duncan Baird of Lowell stopped taking payments in July.
* Rep. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville has terminated his contract and is itemizing. He submitted no expenses for September.
* Rep. John Edwards of Little Rock stopped payments March 21.
* Reps. Jody Dickinson of Newport, Jeremy Gillam of Judsonia, Kim Hammer of Benton, Bryan King of Green Forest, Jim Nickels of Sherwood and John Vines of Hot Springs did not submit an invoice for September.
* Rep. Justin Harris of West Fork stopped filing in april.
* Rep. Andy Mayberry of Little Rock discontinued payments June 30.
* Rep. David Meeks of Conway amended his contract to allow payments "up to" $2,050, but said his monthly amounts may vary. He claimed the full $2,050 for September, however, claiming office expenses of $1,200 and "other" expenses of $8500 owed Naomi Meeks LLC.
* Rep. Nate Steel of Nashville has never sought reimbursements.
* Rep. Tim Summers of Bentonville asked in a Sept. 29 letter that his expense reimbursments payments be discontinued. He said he'd itemize in the future.
* Rep. Kathy Webb of Little Rock amended her contract Sept. 1 for an amount "up to" $2,350 a month and contracted with GoFightWinGroup. She did not submit an invoice for September.
Senators appear to be sticking with past practice. Only Sen. David Johnson of Little Rock is not taking the supplement.
The defendants (chosen as representatives of the larger class) in the Arkansas Public Law Center suit over the practice — Rep. Ann Clemmer of Benton and Sen. Jerry Taylor of Pine Bluff — continued drawing their customary amounts, $2,200 and $2,350, respectively. Clemmer, for example, billed for "administrative and other services furnished under written agreement for September 2011," by Ann Clemmer Consulting. Taylor claimed $2,350 for "legislative support services, office facilities, secretarial services, office supplies, postage and telephone" for his "district office."