Some Washington state legislators pocket thousands in extra-session expense payments

Fourteen Washington state lawmakers took home more than $20,000 to pay for expenses in this year’s record-long legislative session, state House and Senate records show.

OLYMPIA — With the Washington Legislature this spring and summer mostly mired in gridlock, Democratic state Sen. Bob Hasegawa cranked up his campaign to become Seattle’s next mayor.

State Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

But as he attended debates and community events in his bid to replace Ed Murray, Hasegawa continued to collect the $120 in daily expenses, commonly called per diem, that lawmakers routinely take while the Legislature is in session.

Apart from four days around his official campaign kickoff in May, Hasegawa claimed his expenses every day possible during this year’s legislative season, state records show.

That added up to $22,680 for Hasegawa across lawmakers’ record-long 193 days in Olympia, which included a trio of contentious, 30-day overtime special sessions.

Hasegawa was among 14 legislators this year who claimed more than $20,000 in expenses, according to a review of state House and Senate records.

That’s in addition to the $46,839 annual salary that rank-and-file lawmakers receive this year for their work in the part-time Legislature, as well as reimbursement for mileage.

During this year’s overtime sessions, most lawmakers headed home to their districts. A handful of legislators, meanwhile, continued working in Olympia to negotiate a new state budget, a court-ordered school-funding plan and other legislation.

Hasegawa wasn’t among the key negotiators. But he said he spent at least one day a week in Olympia during the special sessions.

“I was campaigning in Seattle,” said Hasegawa, who didn’t advance past the August primary. But, “I was still trying to tend to my legislative responsibilities as well.”

He cited his reputation as a senator who diligently studies legislation and noted his victory this year in getting money into the budget to study a long-sought priority: a state bank.

Breakdown of expenses claimed by some Washington state lawmakers by those receiving over $20,000 per diem for legislative season and those receiving less than $10,000 per diem for legislative season.

“Every day, even on the weekends, I’m probably spending eight hours a day” on legislative business, said Hasegawa. Like many lawmakers, Hasegawa added that he…

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