ST. PAUL --Minnesotans appeared to support a constitutional amendment establishing a 16-member independent panel to determine state legislator pay. With 2,645 of 4,120 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Nov. 8, unofficial returns from the secretary of state indicated nearly 76 percent support. Ballots without any votes for or against the proposed constitutional amendment were counted as "no" votes. The issue was a little-discussed proposed constitutional amendment received legislative backing three years ago as some legislators wanted a way to take the decision out of partisan politics. The issue ran under many voters' radar, with no groups organized to support or oppose it. Any ballots without a vote for or against the amendment were counted as "no" votes. Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, spearheaded the effort. The amendment calls for a commission to decide every two years whether lawmakers' pay should be raised, lowered or kept as is. Now, the Legislature and governor decide that. The $31,140-a-year pay has remained static since 1999. Besides basic pay, representatives receive $66 a day when on the job, and senators get $86. They also may get payments for housing and other expenses. In other states, pay ranges from very little to more than $100,000 a year in California.

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