Panel backs plan to increase state lawmaker pay

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A legislative panel has endorsed a measure that would ask voters to give South Dakota lawmakers a pay raise.

The Legislature's Executive Board voted Monday to advance a plan that would link legislator's pay to the state's median household income.

The proposal would ask voters to amend the state constitution to make the change, removing lawmakers' ability to set their own pay.

State lawmakers are paid $6,000 per session plus a per diem allowance. The measure would set legislators' salaries at one-fifth of the median income. U.S. Census numbers for 2015 show that would mean a raise of 70 percent for the state's 105 lawmakers to nearly $10,200.

House Speaker Mark Mickelson, a supporter, says low salaries limit the pool of people who can serve as lawmakers to those who are retired or self-employed.

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