State lawmakers spend thousands of taxpayer dollars each year on refreshments for themselves, their staffs and guests at the Capitol.

But who wants a warm Diet Coke?

Rep. Dee Morikawa doesn’t mess around when it comes to keeping things cold. In January, she bought two refrigerators — one regular size, one compact — for $1,373.

She isn’t the only House member who cares about proper refrigeration. Rep. Gene Ward spent $186 in July on a fridge for his office.

Hawaii lawmakers received a legislative allowance of $10,200 last year and have $11,261 to use this year on “incidental expenses” connected with their official duties.

Civil Beat took a look at how all 51 House members have been spending their allowances so far this year and how much they spent last year. (We reviewed the senators’ spending habits earlier this week. Read that story here.)

State reps, like their colleagues in the Senate, used a significant chunk of their allowance to print and mail newsletters to their constituents. Lawmakers generally spent a few grand apiece each time they sent these informational mailers out.

Rep. Aaron Johanson paid $4,684 for the newsletters he sent out and Rep. Gregg Takayama spent $4,464 on his mailouts.

Food, drinks and lei were common expenses too. But virtually every rep had at least a couple unique purchases.

Mele Carroll spent $1,017 to stay at the Four Seasons Resort on Lanai.

James Tokioka bought his staff lunch at Aiea Bowl for $2,341.

Mark Takai paid $70 in rental fees to Pearl Ridge Elementary.

Ryan Yamane spent $800 for mediation training.

And Karl Rhoads paid $60 for Korean translation services. 

Here are the expenses state reps have made using their legislative allowances in 2013:

The vast majority of state reps spent all or nearly all of their allowance for 2012 and are digging into this year’s allotment at a healthy clip too.

It’s money they are constitutionally entitled to receive in addition to their annual salaries of $55,896. And there’s a lot of leeway in how they spend it.

Below is a chart that shows how much each House member spent in 2012 and how much they’ve spent so far in 2013, including their biggest purchases and our unscientific pick of “most interesting” expenses.

Civil Beat staff

A look at how House lawmakers have spent their legislative allowances.

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