State Lawmakers Report Free Trips to Taiwan, Elsewhere

Published: Feb. 18, 2008 at 1:10 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, AR - State lawmakers received free trips last year to places like Washington state for a Microsoft legislative round-table and Wyoming for a coal-mine tour.

Such trips, which must be reported to the state, also included a trip to Taiwan for state Representatives Steve Harrelson of Texarkana and Ray Kidd of Jonesboro.

Microsoft Corp. invited state Senator Jimmy Jeffress, Harrelson and Representative Mike Patterson to the company's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, last year.  Microsoft lobbyist Don Tilton says those lawmakers were invited because of their interest in technology.

Harrelson and Kidd traveled to Taiwan last year on a trip paid for by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The trip focused on economic development.

Other lawmakers traveled west to learn about energy.  Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. has for the past several years paid to send lawmakers on a coal mine tour south of Gillette, Wyoming.

The cooperatives also paid for several lawmakers to attend the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's legislative conference in Washington, D.C., a trip that cost $2,000-$3,000 per person.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)