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Senate OKs per diem increase for senators

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A Senate committee has voted to give an extra $30 a day to senators and an additional $10 daily increase to legislative assistants while the Legislature is in session.

The bipartisan Senate Facilities and Operations Committee voted 4-3 on Tuesday to approve the increase, with Republican Sen. Don Benton, the committee's chairman, casting the tie-breaking vote in support. Also voting in support were: Sens. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, and Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island. Voting 'no' were: Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina and Sens. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville and Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee.

The Senate vote also increases legislative assistant per diems from $30 a day to $40 a day.

The move follows action taken earlier this year by the House to increase representatives' daily stipend -- known as a per diem -- from $90 a day to $120 a day.

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