Magazine article State Legislatures

Jobs Back Home May Allow Part-Time Lawmakers to Serve

Magazine article State Legislatures

Jobs Back Home May Allow Part-Time Lawmakers to Serve

Article excerpt

Citizen legislators may be one of the most authentic embodiments of the American ideal of "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Each year, they leave their hometowns for a few months to serve as elected state lawmakers, then return home after their sessions end to live as members of their communities.

In the 16 states with part-time legislatures, having another job back home may be essential to lawmakers' ability to serve. In addition to the months spent in session, lawmakers may have to research policies or serve on committees during interims. Many may need year-round incomes, however, to supplement their part-time legislative salaries. For this reason, they often have careers as attorneys, business owners, farmers or teachers.

Legislative leave laws in at least 16 states (15 with part-time legislatures) require employers to grant legislators a leave and, after sessions end, restore them to their previous positions without loss of seniority. Several of the laws explicitly state that the time an employee spends on legislative leave cannot affect his or her eligibility for retirement benefits.

Leave laws help protect part-time legislators' outside jobs, but they have limitations. In six of the 16 states, the laws apply only to public employers. And only New Jersey requires legislative leave to be paid.

Four more states have legislative leave laws that are less robust: Oklahoma, for example, requires legislative leave, but only for railroad employees. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.