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House votes to phase out lawmakers’ use of state-leased cars

October 1, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state lawmakers moved closer to eliminating one of their own perks Monday by voting to end their free use of state-leased vehicles.

The House voted 140-44 on Monday for the bill that would end the benefit and phase out the use of vehicles currently being used by lawmakers.

Supporters said the existing system is wasteful and there is not enough oversight about how the cars are used, but opponents argued the change was not likely to produce savings.

Officials say the state currently leases 42 vehicles for state legislators at an annual cost of about $304,000. There are 253 seats in the General Assembly.

House Republicans are the only one of the four caucuses that previously did away with leases among their members.

The prime sponsor, Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford, said a major concern is “negligent entrustment,” creating the potential for legal liability for the government.

But Rep. Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery, who does not take a car, said eliminating the vehicles may not be cost-effective for the state.

“I believe this is a bill best suited for an election campaign mailer, and not for the law of the commonwealth,” Bradford said.

For lawmakers who use a state-leased vehicle, the state also pays the portion of gasoline, insurance and other expenses that reflects how much of the vehicle use is dedicated for the legislators’ job-related activities.

The proposal goes to the state Senate for its consideration. If it passes, those who currently have state-leased cars will be allowed to keep them until they leave the chamber, turn in the car or until they are otherwise deemed ineligible.

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