OUR VIEW: It’s time to update SD’s constitutionLawmakers should be paid the state rate for their initial trip to Pierre and for that last trip home.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Archaic and outdated laws drive us nuts. For instance, the website legalzoom.com says that it’s illegal for unmarried women to parachute in the state of Florida on Sundays. Again, utterly senseless and outdated laws are just plain silly and should be stricken from the books.
Here in South Dakota, voters soon will decide the fate of Constitutional Amendment N, which would repeal a restriction on travel reimbursement for members of the state Legislature.
At present, state lawmakers receive 5 cents per mile to travel to Pierre for the start of their annual legislative sessions. When it’s time to go home at the end of the session, they again receive 5 cents per mile.
The state rate for travel is 37 cents per mile. But for some reason, lawmakers still receive that paltry nickel per mile for that initial trip each year to Pierre and again on the way home.
Why was this law put into the state constitution in the first place?
It came about in the 19th century, when a nickel was worth much more than it is today. We suspect it has stayed in law out of respect for tradition, and also because many lawmakers probably feel uncomfortable asking for more.
Then we’ll say it for them: Those who serve in the South Dakota Legislature are paid for their services. They receive $12,000 for each two-year term, which for most of them is scant compensation considering any pay they are missing out on from their regular jobs back home. They also receive a per diem of $110 per legislative day.
We feel lawmakers should be paid the state rate for their initial trip to Pierre and for that last trip home.
It’s a concession that should be made to keep the system fair and modern.