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NCPBA Legislative Update: June 10, 2011

RESTRICTIONS TO STATE LEO

RETIREMENT REMOVED FROM HB927
As reported last week, following opposition to the LEO Retirement Restrictions in HB927, the bill sponsor, Representative Dale Folwell, proposed a meeting with group stakeholders for this past Tuesday, June 7, 2011.  That meeting did occur for about two hours beginning at 10:00 a.m. in Representative Folwell’s office.
PBA and other groups representing civilian and retired members facing even more severe restrictions than law enforcement also looked for compromise on accrued sick leave and restriction changes.  Most of PBA’s concerns centered on our state LEO members, as local officers covered under the LGERS were not affected by this bill, with one exception.  Sick leave accrual reductions proposed by HB927 would have affected all law enforcement officers hired after August 1, 2011 and all current officers in the way they accrued sick leave toward retirement after January 1, 2012.
Following the meeting, a new Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) modified some of the proposed restrictions for civilian retirees and we are pleased to report, ALL of the proposed changes for law enforcement officers were removed from the bill.  One exception was to increase the five year at age 55 to 10 years.  This will mainly affect all those “double dipping” chiefs hired from some place else where they have already retired with 20 or 25 year retirement benefits.  Otherwise, all LEO retirement benefits will remain unchanged.
Remaining elements of HB927 include:
 
1)         criminal penalties for non-eligible recipients who continue to receive and deposit a retirement allowance after the retiree’s death and/or fail to inform the Retirement System of the retiree’s death.
2)         a 200,000 dollar retirement allowance cap on the highest paid public employees and;
3)         an anti “spiking” provision that prohibits employer manipulation of a public employee or appointee salary by giving huge one time salary increases to substantially increase retirement allowances
On Wednesday, June 8, 2011, HB927 passed the House State Personnel Committee with the new PCS (70239), and since most of the provisions waived further appropriation consideration, the bill moved directly to the House floor.  On Thursday, June 9, 2011, HB927 (PCS70239) passed the House 117 – 0 and has been sent to the Senate.
 
 
SENATE VERSION OF PBA’S LEO DISABILITY LOOP HOLE BILL PASSED COMMITTEE WHILE HOUSE COMPANION BILL
 
GETS FULL HOUSE APPROVAL
 
SB443 Removed Restrictions/LEO Disability Benefits, sponsored by Senators Stevens, Newton and Harrington, unanimously passed the Senate Pensions and Retirement Committee on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, with no debate.  As reported last week, the House companion bill, HB538, passed the House State Personnel Committee and was to be heard next in the House Finance Committee.  However, due to the bill’s low fiscal impact, primary sponsor Representative Shirley Randleman worked with House leadership to move the bill directly to the House floor where it passed 112 – 0 during a rare Friday session on June 3, 2011.  The bill is now in the Senate, and while it is not affected by the crossover deadline, the bill’s movement substantially increases the changes that the bill will become law this year.
 
NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS
 
An otherwise productive PBA legislative week, in which PBA continues to fair better than most other labor groups, took a nasty turn on Wednesday, June 8, when our LEO Fairness Act took a direct hit promulgated by the kind of sleazy sabotage we have not seen before.
HB602, which would have provided fair hearings for local law enforcement officers facing dismissal, was opposed by the usual suspects.  However, this time around with our having 30 co-sponsors (one fourth of the House membership) and incredible bipartisan support, the enemies of professionalism and fairness had to result to tactics only a bottom feeding pond dweller could appreciate.  Because of the complexities of the measures used to tank the bill and the interesting and possibly improper or unlawful conduct by some of the surprising opponents who showed up to oppose the bill, we are investigating further before adding to this report.
However, stay tuned, and, as always, we will keep you posted.

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