Local Lawmaker Wants Hotel Reimbursement

Posted: 7:41 PM, Mar 28, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-29 17:37:43-04

House Majority leader Glen Casada lives 39 miles from the Capitol in Nashville, but the Williamson County Republican has introduced a bill asking taxpayers to cover his hotel bills, a request he has called "fair."

"Taxpayers hire us to do this job and I would think they want us to be the most efficient," Casada said in an interview on Monday.

Representative Casada has introduced a bill which would allow lawmakers who live within 50 miles of Nashville to get reimbursed for their hotel costs if they spent the night in the city while the legislature is in session.  

According to Casada, there are often nights when he is conducting legislative business until 9 p.m. and then has to return to the Capitol for meetings at 7 a.m. the next morning.

"For man of us it's an hour drive back up here the next morning ... I think it's a fair request that I am making of the taxpayers that maybe once a week with a late night and early morning you allow me to spend one night here," Casada added.

Back in 2014 Representative Casada voted to repeal a state law that automatically reimbursed every lawmaker for four nights in hotel each week during the legislative session. According to Casada his newly proposed legislation would mandate lawmakers submit their hotel receipts to the state human resources officer who would determine if the request should be approved.

"This is information reported to the public so voters will know how many times their House and Senate member uses this," Casada added.

Some though have wondered if the push for the change is rooted in personal reasons. Public records show the House Majority leader is in the midst of a divorce, when asked about that possibility he responded, "Absolutely not. Members have come to me for years and quite honestly look, I spend one night a week in Nashville, I'm back in my bed six nights a week."

If passed, the bill would take effect November 6, 2018 which according to Casada is after his divorce would be finalized.

House Democrats have also questioned the sudden need for the change in the reimbursement policy.

"It seems like if they have a house within 50 miles I’m not sure why’d they would need a hotel room around here. Common sense would make me wonder what the purpose of that bill was," House Democratic leader Mike Stewart said at a press briefing last week.