Halcro wants state to get workers' frequent flyer miles

Posted: Monday, February 12, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- An Anchorage Republican wants to force state workers to use the frequent flyer miles they accumulate on state business for job-related travel instead of vacations.

Rep. Andrew Halcro still talks about the day last year he overheard ticket agents at a Juneau airline counter redeeming frequent flyer miles for a state commissioner.

The widespread practice of cashing in miles accumulated on business trips for personal travel is legal and condoned by the state, but it doesn't sit well with Halcro.

''It reinforced to me the mileage he was accumulating on state business -- he was turning it into a vacation, and I think that's legitimate state property,'' Halcro said.

A bill that would require government workers to use frequent flyer miles earned on state business for subsequent state travel went nowhere last year, but Halcro reintroduced it this year anyway.

He argues that House Bill 123 would save money on transportation, which costs the state about $15 million a year.

He also defended the idea by pointing to the federal government, which prohibits employees from redeeming business-related frequent flyer miles for personal use.

Chuck O'Connell, business manager for the Alaska State Employees Association, which represents nearly 7,400 state workers, argued the frequent flyer miles are awarded to travelers by the airlines, not by the state.

He also contends the miles should be considered a reward because most state workers travel for business on their own time in the mornings, evenings or on weekends.

''Frequent flyer miles don't cost the state of Alaska any money, and to take away something like this ... it doesn't make a lot of sense to us,'' O'Connell said.

Under Halcro's measure, the miles would remain in the travelers accounts, and the state would trust employees to keep track of the government miles and use them for future business travel or face an ethics violation if they were discovered using them for personal trips.

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