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Minnesota Lawmaker Proposes Legislature Skip Paychecks

A Minnesota state lawmaker is proposing that his fellow legislators forfeit their paychecks, health insurance and other related compensation during government shutdowns, including the current impasse, which now ranks as the longest shuttering of state business in the state’s history.

Rep. Tony Cornish told FoxNews.com that he began this effort because he had been receiving emails from constituents angry that lawmakers were still receiving paychecks while they were unemployed and struggling.

"I'm a conservative Republican, but the public has asked us to suffer the same as them, and that’s what I plan to do," Cornish, who is in his fifth term, told FoxNew.com.

Currently Minnesota lawmakers have the option of forgoing their paychecks during shutdowns, however 139 out of 201 opted to keep their paycheck during the shutdown.

Since July 1, Minnesota has been at a standstill -- its third state government shutdown in the last 10 years. During shutdowns, employees of all government agencies including the departments of natural resources, commerce, education, motor vehicles, pollution control and state parks forego paychecks and other benefits.

For some lawmakers who do not have a second job, a forfeiture of their salaries could hit them as hard as it does other state workers. According to Cornish, lawmakers receive $31,000 annually as well as $76 per diem while in session.

No individuals or groups have voiced opposition to this measure, but Cornish said he doubts lawmakers would dare to oppose the law public because of the publicity it would attract.

Cornish said despite the lack of opposition, he also hasn’t gotten overwhelming support.

"I'm doing this solo, I don’t want anybody to try and talk me out of it, it's the right thing to do for the people."

The government shutdown not only affects state employees, it’s also hurting local business owners in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where most government buildings are located. Local establishments depend on the business of thousands of state workers who purchase gas and food or do their shopping in the area.

"If the shutdown continues, these businesses won’t be able to survive much longer," Cornish said.