Delivering on her promise last fall to introduce legislation to address reforms and heightened accountability, Senator Kimberly Yee is introducing SB 1420 and SB 1500. These bills will be considered today in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Workforce Development at 2 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1.
The bills follow the Senator’s discovery of abuse of per diem reimbursements by commissioners at the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA). In August, Senator Yee met with representatives of the ICA, asking questions in advance of a Sunset Review Hearing. She learned commissioners receive $50 per day in unlimited per diem payments. In her research, she found one commissioner requested 292 days of per diem at a cost of $14,600. Another requested 253 days of per diem at a cost of $12,650. Senator Yee uncovered some of the $50 requests were for responding to a single email or reading a news article.
SB 1420 and SB 1500 would end these abusive practices through greater accountability and transparency. Commissioners would be required to submit documentation of their duties performed for each day that per diem is requested. The legislation authorizes the ICA Director to deny per diem requests for insufficient documentation or ineligible activity.
SB 1421, scheduled to be considered in the Senate Committee on Government later this week, has also been introduced by Senator Yee to require the Auditor General to review the use of administrative funds and per diem compensation of all agencies, boards, commissions, councils and advisory committees when conducting a performance or financial audit.
“This package of bills is the first step in calling for greater accountability and transparency to ensure that Arizona’s tax dollars are being spent wisely. Board members and commissioners are public servants and should not be using the state’s per diem policy to supplement their incomes,” said Senator Yee. “We must bring proper accountability to all areas of government. The taxpayers deserve it.”