Lawmakers have accounts for incidental expenses
Does each member of the state Legislature expend his/her own money to pay for the food and beverages that are served to constituents/public at the opening of the Legislature? Is taxpayers' money used?
Answer: Legislators can tap into their annual legislative allotment to pay for the refreshments. Currently, the allotment is set at $7,500.
"Basically, they can use that for any kind of allowed incidental expenses for their office," said Richard Rapoza, spokesman for the majority Democrats in the Senate. "Most senators use that to pay for their opening-day celebration."
House members also are allowed to use their legislative allowances for opening-day festivities, however, family and friends often offer to help cook for the occasion, said Georgette Deemer, spokeswoman for the majority House Democrats. So, a combination of donations and the allotment may account for the refreshments, she said.
The allowance is set by law. Under Section 24-1 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, it says: "Each member of the Legislature shall receive an annual allowance of $7,500, which amount is to cover incidental expenses connected with legislative duties and the amount shall be payable in a manner prescribed by the respective rules of each house; provided that when the legislative salary is increased, the legislative allowance shall be increased by the same percentage."
Q: How far away from a stop sign can a car park? On both middle and upper Pele Street, a car has to stay in the left lane because a parked car has left no room to stop at the stop sign in the right lane. It's their parking space instead.
A: By law, you're not supposed to park within 30 feet of a stop sign, said Capt. Frank Fujii, spokesman for the Honolulu Police Department.
Under Section 15-14.1 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, you're also not supposed to park within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection or any midblock crosswalk, or within 75 feet of any traffic control signal.
Q: I'm collecting full Social Security retirement benefits, but still working full time. Can I still contribute money to my IRA account? If yes, how much can I contribute and until what age can I do so?
A: It's best you contact the Social Security Administration about your particular situation. Call (800) 772-1213 or just go online at ssa.gov, where you can find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
A similar posted question is, "Will money withdrawn from my IRA be considered earnings that reduce my benefits?" The answer is no.
"We count only the wages you earn from a job, or your net profit if you're self-employed. Nonwork income such as pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits," the SSA says.
Earnings received after full retirement age will not reduce your benefits, although they would be reduced if earnings exceed certain limits before full retirement age.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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