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Bill would require officials to reimburse travel

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Elected officials who have publicly funded security details should reimburse the state when they go outside the state on private business, a Texas lawmaker said Wednesday.

Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, presented his bill to the House State Affairs Committee, saying it is a cost-saving measure members of both parties should welcome.

He pointed out that Gov. Rick Perry ran up a $3.7 million security bill while running for president in 2012 over 140 days. Former President George W. Bush's security cost the state $3.9 million when he ran for president, and the last Democrat to hold the office, Gov. Anne Richards, also ran up a large bill, he added.

"It's not directed at Gov. Perry, or directed at President Bush or Gov. Richards, it's about reforming a system that we all agree, from a common sense perspective, that if you are not involved in state-related business, there is not a reason for us to pay for those expenses," Larson told the committee.

Perry's office says state troopers need to travel with him for his safety. But Larson said all of the other 2012 candidates paid for their own security costs until they received Secret Service protection and other governors reimburse their states for security costs when on political business.

Two Republican and two Democratic lawmakers joined Larson in supporting the bill, but no one spoke either for or against the bill on Wednesday. Committee Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, left the bill pending and will decide whether to call it up for a cote later.

Under the measure, officials would file travel forms with the Texas Ethics Commission, which would decide when there is a disagreement over whether travel was official or not.

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