LAW REVIEW: Is it true that both State and Federal politicians can vote their own salaries, pensions, and healthcare benefits?
Is it true that both State and Federal politicians can vote their own salaries, pensions, and healthcare benefits?
"The answer is 'yes' and 'no', Matt, "said Jeana Goosmann, Goosmann Law Firm. "Traditionally federal legislators have a wide range of authority, and can vote themselves raises & change their pensions."
One recent example was the vote on President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. "Congressmen & U.S. Senators have chosen to exempt their offices from Obamacare," Goosmann said. "The perks began innocently, but over the years the benefits grown more generous.
State lawmakers don't have as much freedom as their counterparts in Washington, D.C. "In South Dakota, they're considered part-time and don't have perks of full time employees," Goosmann said. "They can set salaries, but quite low. About $6,000 a year." Attempts to raise salaries are often defeated. They also don't have the benefit of health insurance, and don't participate in state retirement plan.
In Iowa, lawmakers are considered full-time, and earn a $25,000, which they can set. They're eligible for fully paid health benefits. They're also allowed to collect a pension from the Iowa Public Employee Retirement System.
Can state and federal politicians be exempt to traffic laws? Goosmann said 'yes' in certain circumstances. "The U.S. Constitution states lawmakers are privileged from arrest during session," Goosmann said. The exceptions? Treason, a felony, or breach of peace. In Washington, no tickets can be given during legislative session. And, in Colorado, lawmakers have special plates to exempt them from traffic camera tickets.
Can politicians be invested with companies our tax dollars pay for? Yes, Goosmann said. " The accounting process would be impossibly complex."
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