- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Two New Mexico state representatives have been getting paid for the Legislature’s 2014 session though they have been absent because of health problems.

The Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1m9scul ) reports that records released Tuesday indicate Democratic Reps. Phillip Archuleta of Las Cruces and Ernest Chavez of Albuquerque each received more than $1,500 for the first 10 days of the session.

Their absences have been excused because of their health problems. Archuleta has faced a difficult recovery from hip surgery, and Chavez reportedly was weakened by a spider bite.

New Mexico legislators don’t receive salaries. Instead, they get daily “per diem” payments for attendance. They also receive mileage reimbursements.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Kenny Martinez, D-Grants, said Martinez believes the payments are appropriate.

“The speaker does feel it is appropriate to pay out per-diem checks because the representatives have introduced legislation and are closely monitoring their bills,” Martinez’s spokeswoman, Carla Aragon, said in an email. “They also have submitted capital-outlay requests, and they are still working to address the needs of their constituents.”