Opinion Letter No. 93-17
October 8, 1993
Legislators’ Expenditures of Allowance Not Government Records
Records relating to each State legislator’s
expenditure of their $5,000 annual allowance are not
"government records" under the UIPA. Internal policies
of both the House of Representatives and the
Senate provide that: (1) the allowance is payable in lump sum; and
(2) there are no reporting or
accounting requirements imposed upon the expenditure of the allowance.
After consulting U.S.
Treasury Regulations, the OIP concluded that the annual allowance
is an "unaccountable" business
expense reimbursement plan because the allowance is included in
each legislator’s gross income, is
reported on their W-2 Form, and is subject to income taxation and
employment tax withholding.
While the OIP found that the definition of the term
"government record" was intended by the
Legislature to be comprehensive, the OIP found that the Legislature
could not have intended the term
to include records relating to how public employees spend their
personal incomes. However, the OIP
found that the UIPA would not prohibit legislators from disclosing
how they have spent their
allowances, and that should the House and the Senate adopt rules
that impose accounting or reporting
requirements concerning the annual allowance, records compiled in
connection with such requirements
would be "government records" under the UIPA.