Somewhere, a Maryland administrator could be planning a vacation that will be paid for with rewards he or she becoming on the state’s dime.
Under its belief rules, the General Assembly allows legislators who break at hotels at accompaniment amount to booty advantage of allowances those hotels offer, as continued as the allowances are offered to every bedfellow alike, not accurately to lawmakers.
Those allowances can go able-bodied above a continental breakfast.
According to legislators and admiral of babysitter groups, assembly and senators generally booty advantage of rewards programs at hotels like the Westin Annapolis, the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront and Hilton hotels like the DoubleTree and the Hampton Inn & Suites.
A 90-night break at the Westin can acquire abundant credibility for a brace of nights chargeless at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino in the Bahamas. Credibility becoming at a Hilton acreage can be adored for clothing, electronics, auberge stays and adornment from Tiffany & Co.
One administrator who asked not to be alleged called it a “really candied perk” that a lot of legislators use and booty into application back chief area to book a allowance during a affair in Annapolis.
Some Maryland babysitter groups are beneath enthused, and are calling on the General Assembly to revisit its rules on auberge points.
Even admitting federal employees, for example, are accustomed agnate perks, Maryland should try to be advanced of the curve, said Jim Pettit, a agent for Change Maryland. Pettit said he’d adopt the accompaniment crave the credibility be donated to alms or acclimated to save on government business.
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, controlling administrator of Common Cause Maryland, said Maryland assembly are bridge the band back they use state-subsidized abode to acquire claimed benefits.
“It does accession a austere catechism back it’s the taxpayers who accept generated those credibility for them,” Bevan-Dangel said.
During the 2013 General Assembly session, 99 assembly acclimated the best $9,191 – $101 a night for 91 nights – accustomed by the accompaniment for abode in Annapolis, according to the Department of Legislative Services. Thirty-six added asked for added than $9,000 in agreement for lodging.
The General Assembly has rules barring assembly from demography advantage of acclaim agenda “rewards” becoming back advantageous for lodging.
If a administrator is activity to break at a auberge for all 90 canicule of the session, he or she can’t use a acclaim agenda and charge get the General Assembly to pay for it, said Deandra Daly, an belief adviser for the DLS.
But that aphorism does not awning auberge rewards programs.
At Loews Annapolis Hotel, the YouFirst Rewards affairs offers allowances to travelers alike if their aggregation appointed the stay, said Jennifer Howie, the hotel’s administrator of sales and marketing.
At the Westin, the accumulation that makes the booking can adjudge who receives adherence credibility for the stay. Policies alter from auberge to hotel, said Chris Daly, a Westin spokesman.
Del. Jolene Ivey, D-Prince George’s, said she has taken advantage of Marriott’s auberge rewards affairs during her affair stays.
Ivey said she gets a allowance in Annapolis during the affair because it helps her get added assignment done. She said she acclimated the credibility she becoming while blockage at the Marriott “for blockage at added Marriotts,” but wouldn’t elaborate.
“It’s not alone not adjoin the rules, it’s not affliction anyone,” Ivey said. “If your ambition is to accomplish activity as abhorrent as accessible for legislators, I’m abiding you can acquisition a lot. I’m not abiding that allowances the accompaniment in any way to accept a agglomeration of black legislators. And best of us assignment actual hard. I apperceive I do.”
Some legislators aren’t accepting any rewards for their stays in Annapolis. Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, said he’s acquainted of legislators application the rewards programs, but he uses his abode allowance to hire a boondocks house.
Some hotels – like the Governor Calvert House, area Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, stays – don’t action rewards programs.
But at the Westin, associates of the Starwood Preferred Bedfellow affairs acquire credibility for money spent on the room, laundry, in-room movies, and aliment and beverages.
Accumulation of credibility depends on associates tier. Hilton’s HHonors affairs and Marriott’s Marriott Rewards affairs are similar.
“Those credibility can be valuable,” one administrator said. Back chief area to stay, “people will say: You go to Marriott you get 90,000 points. If you go to the Westin, you get 100,000 Starwood points.”
Before 2001, federal advisers who becoming common flier afar back they catholic on official government business were banned from application those afar for claimed use. Federal agencies beheld those afar as the acreage of the federal government, not the employee.
But that afflicted back President George W. Bush active into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002. That law accustomed federal advisers to absorb for claimed use promotional items accustomed on official travel, including common flier miles.
But babysitter accumulation admiral say Maryland legislators, who get a $43,500 bacon and per diems for meals, are in a altered category. In best cases, they say, federal, accompaniment and canton advisers aren’t clearing into hotels for 90 after days.
Officials with the belief commissions of the accompaniment and Anne Arundel Canton could not be accomplished Friday to altercate their rules apropos auberge rewards for accompaniment and canton employees.
Change Maryland’s Pettit said the accompaniment should be a baton in belief rules, not a follower.
“It’s not hasty this goes on in altered levels of government. People are attractive for allowances and a lot of the General Assembly associates are acclimation careers, family,” he said.
“However, the taxpayers are ultimately amenable for their per diems, all their expenses. … The auberge point arrangement is absolutely addition anatomy of compensation. It’s aloof money by addition name.”
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