The 2015 Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 283 (Ch. 452) providing for a stipend for legislators for constituent services and allowing for reimbursement of constituent services expenses not paid from a constituent services account or otherwise reimbursed. The legislation provided a primary $3,000 stipend for each legislator for constituent services and a secondary amount of between $1,000 and $4,000 depending on the square mileage of a legislator's district, for districts over 100 square miles. The effective date is July 1, 2017, as a legislature is not allowed to set its own compensation.
The primary stipend may be used only for providing constituent services, which include but are not limited to:
Unreimbursed expenses for mileage, per diem (meals), or lodging to provide constituent services or represent constituents
Telecommunications or phone, internet, computer hardware and software to communicate with constituents
Postage for communications to constuents or on behalf of constituents
Education-related expenses for the purposes of representing constituents and their interests
Legislators who have not submitted a reimbursement form for an information technology allowance since January 1, 2017, will receive the full primary stipend of $3,000 on July 1, 2017. The legislators who have received an information technology allowance reimbursement after January 1, 2017, will have the amount deducted from the $3,000 amount. After July 1, 2017, Legislative Services Division will issue checks to all legislators for the primary stipend, minus taxes.
The payment is treated as taxable income, however, the legislator may be able to claim certain expenses as deductions for Federal income tax purposes. In general, taxable fringe benefits are subject to withholding when they are made available. In accordance with Federal law, Legislative Services Division will treat this taxable fringe benefit as paid in a single pay period and will withhold on the benefit at the supplemental wage flat rate of 25%. There may be additional state taxes.
For the secondary amount, the law specifies that legislators must apply for reimbursement to the Legislative Services Division by submitting written documentation that satisfies applicable requirements of Title 2, chapter 18, part 5, which apply to meals, lodging, and transportation for otherwise unreimbursed expenses related to the legislator's expenses incurred for providing constituent services. The secondary amount is a variable amount that is determined by square mileage of district and requires the Legislative Services Division to inform legislators by July 1, 2017, of the amount authorized in SB 283 in section 1(2). In mid-June, Legislative Services Division will send legislators eligible for the secondary amount a packet including the amount for which the legislator is eligible and reimbursement forms.
Requirements for Secondary Amount
For the secondary amount, the legislator may submit a claim form for reimbursement at any time. Depending on the type of claim, certain reimbursements may be taxable, for instance reimbursed meals for meetings that do not require an overnight stay.
Leadership approval is not necessary. The Legislative Services Division is responsible for review for type of expense, taxable status, and amount available.
A legislator must use the authorized form for unreimbursed expenses for mileage, per diem, lodging, or education-related expenses for the secondary amount.
Legislators may not claim salary.
Receipts are required for lodging and registration.
On any reimbursement form the legislator must indicate that these expenses were not reimbursed by any other legislative or state fund, organization, or a constituent services account provided for in 13-37-402, MCA.
Legislative Services will provide a quarterly report to legislators on the status and use of their account.
Accounts expire to coincide with the calendar year prior to the next session, ending December 31, 2018.
For more information about salary and compensation, contact Legislative Financial Services at (406) 444-9542.