Rep. Terry Burton, R-Newton

All 52 members of the Mississippi Senate are being fingerprinted – not for alleged wrongdoing, but so they can get paid.

A fingerprint scanner has been installed at the entrance of the Senate docket room on the third floor of the Mississippi Capitol.

When fully operational – most likely sometimes next month – senators will be expected to stop by the docket room and scan their fingerprint to be paid for their visit to the Capitol.

“Technology is advancing and so is the Mississippi Senate,” said Pro Tem Terry Burton, R-Newton, who oversees the management of the Senate and its staff.

He said many professions now require people to be fingerprinted for identification purposes.

Committee chairs get paid for up to six visits per month to the Capitol – outside of session – to work on constituent services while non chairs get four days. In the House vice chairs have five days.

They receive $40, plus mileage and per diem for those visits. The per diem is tied to the federal reimbursement rate, which is normally around $125 per day.

Burton said the fingerprint scanner “will be real simple. It will be for accountability to make sure no one is gaming the system – not that we think anybody is.”

Under the current system, senators have swipe cards that record their visits to the Capitol. But Burton said sometimes members forget the cards.

In the House, clerk Andrew Ketchings said there is no current plan to follow the Senate and install a fingerprint scanner.

House members fill out paperwork to record and receive payment for their constituent days.

Besides the constituent days, Mississippi legislative pay consists of $10,000 per year, plus $1,500 per month out of session. They also receive the per diem (tied to the federal rate) when in Jackson and mileage.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.