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Lawmaker out-of-state travel reduced
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's House speaker has tightened the purse strings on out-of-state travel by state representatives.Before Beth Harwell's policy change, House members were allowed to take one out-of-state trip per year with taxpayers covering transportation plus hotel costs and an expense allowance of $176 per day. They were also allowed to make more trips and bill the state only for daily, or "per diem," expenses.The policy started in May makes the one-trip-per-year rule also apply to per diem payments.Harwell said members can still charge their travel expenses to their campaign accounts instead of charging taxpayers.The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that records for 2010 indicate at least 16 representatives collected per diem payments for more than one out-of-state trip.Two House members from Memphis, Democratic Reps. Lois DeBerry and Karen Camper, had already made two out-of-state trips and received per diem payments this year before Harwell changed the policy.