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Official Opinion 94-24

Official Opinion 94-24

November 21, 1994
To: 

Chairman
State Transportation Board

Re: 

Members of the State Transportation Board who travel out of state to attend meetings of the State Transportation Board or its committees are entitled to the same daily expense allowance as provided members of the General Assembly for out-of-state travel.

You have, on behalf of the State Transportation Board of Georgia, asked for my official opinion concerning whether members of the Board are entitled to actual expenses while traveling outside of the state. For the reasons which follow, it is my official opinion that board members are entitled to receive their actual expenses as the expense allowance per day allotted to board members pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 45-7-21, as that is the expense allowance per day to which members of the General Assembly are entitled for attendance at meetings held out-of-state.

Compensation and expenses for board members are governed by O.C.G.A. § 32-2-20(f), which provides, in pertinent part:

The members of the board shall receive no salary but shall receive for each day of actual attendance at meetings of the board and the committee meetings the per diem and transportation costs prescribed in Code Section 45-7-21.

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 45-7-21 provides, in pertinent part:

Each member . . . shall receive the same expense allowance per day as that received by a member of the General Assembly for each day such member . . . is in attendance at a meeting of such board or commission, plus reimbursement for actual transportation costs while traveling by public carrier or the legal mileage rate for the use of a personal automobile in connection with such attendance.

Assuming that "per diem" as used in O.C.G.A. § 32-2-20(f) means the same thing as "expense allowance per day" as used in O.C.G.A. § 45-7-21, for each day a board member is in actual attendance at meetings of the board and its committees, that board member is entitled to the same expense allowance per day as that received by a member of the General Assembly.

The expense allowance per day (or daily expense allowance) to which a member of the General Assembly is entitled is described in O.C.G.A. § 28-1-8(b). That Code Section specifies three circumstances where members of the General Assembly are entitled to a daily expense allowance. First,

[d]uring regular and extraordinary sessions of the General Assembly, each member shall also receive a daily expense allowance as provided for in Code Section 45-7-4.

Second,

[f]or each day's service within the state as a member of a standing committee or of an interim committee created by or pursuant to a resolution of either or both houses or as a member of a committee, board, bureau, commission, or other agency created by or pursuant to statute or the Constitution of Georgia, such member shall receive a daily expense allowance as provided for in Code Section 45-7-4 and the mileage allowance for the use of a personal car when devoted to official business . . . or a travel allowance of actual transportation costs if traveling by public carrier.

Finally,

[f]or each day's service out of state as a member of any committee, board, bureau, commission, or other agency, such member shall receive actual expenses as an expense allowance, plus the mileage allowance for the use of a personal car when devoted to official business . . . or a travel allowance of actual transportation costs if traveling by public carrier or by rental motor vehicle.

The daily expense allowance provided in O.C.G.A. § 45-7-4 to members of the General Assembly attending meetings of the General Assembly or board or committee meetings in-state is $59 per day. O.C.G.A. § 45-7-4(a)(22). By specifying, in O.C.G.A. § 28-1-8(b)(1), that the expense allowance per day was that provided by O.C.G.A. § 45-7-4(a)(22), for all in-state meetings, while specifying the expense allowance per day for out-of-state meetings as being actual expenses, the General Assembly intended that its members receive their actual expenses for out-of-state service in lieu of the $59 per day for service within the state. Members of the State Transportation Board are entitled to these same expense allowances.

In receiving actual expenses as a daily expense allowance, members of the board must comply with the travel reimbursement rules and regulations established by the Department of Audits and Accounts and the Office of Planning and Budget. O.C.G.A. § 45-7-28.1(b). This includes submitting the required documentation for lodging and air fare expenses, O.C.G.A. § 45-7-29, as well as the restrictions on reimbursement for first-class air fare. O.C.G.A. § 45-7-30.

It is therefore my official opinion that members of the State Transportation Board of Georgia are entitled to receive, as the daily expense allowance allocated them by O.C.G.A. § 45-7-21, their actual expenses for attendance at board and committee meetings which are held out-of-state.

Prepared by:

GEORGE P. SHINGLER
Senior Assistant Attorney General


Since your inquiry specifically referred to out-of-state travel, I assume that there is no question about each board member's entitlement to the $59 per day expense allowance plus mileage for attendance at board meetings within the state. I also assume that there is no question about the payment of this expense allowance for each day a board member actually spends in studying the road needs of the various counties within his district. See O.C.G.A. § 32-2-20(f).