05 May 2011

Committee action, May 5: HB 377, HB 426

HB 377 by Rep. Kevin Pearson would remove legislators from using their credit in the Legislature to accrue additional benefits if already in a state retirement system. He noted to the House Retirement Committee that he leads that while new members not in a system to the Legislature could not get retirement benefits, accrual of service credit is currently allowed for members in a system, and even previous legislators under the old plan that allowed them to accrue retirement through service could do this without this bill.

Rep. Reed Henderson wanted clarity about dual employment and was told it applied in this circumstance. Not knowing it was possible to hold some offices dually in state government such as teaching and legislator, he wondered if this applied to so few people potentially that no law really was necessary. After this, Pearson said perhaps he should work on it more and try again at the next committee meeting.

HB 426 by Rep. Chuck Kleckley would add to three of the state retirement boards a representative of the Division of Administration, which already has a representative of several statewide boards.

Rep. Rogers Pope offered an amendment to remove a member from each of the three boards, arguing boards shouldn’t be too big. He wanted the Superintendant of Education removed, noting that his designees of members of boards were being discouraged from attending because of fears of having to fulfill reporting requirements, so that might in turn discourage representation. But Rep. Jerry Robideaux didn’t think this should matter and objected to the amendment. By contrast, Henderson thought the cavalier attitude by Education merited removal of its representative. Now working for the Department of Education, former Speaker Joe Salter said they’d like to keep their representation but to add the ability to have a voting designee.

Pearson said he was sympathetic, but warned Education needed to show up, pointing to how Treasury’s designee actively participates. Salter said if this changed he’d try to see their attendance approved. Pearson offered a substitute amendment to leave the superintendant and give a designee voting rights. Robideuax noticed Pope’s amendment and original bill effectively removed the ex oficio status, and this began to devolve into a host of cleanup issues. Pearson decided to move ahead, raising objection from Pope. It passed 5-4 with Pearson casting the decisive vote. Robideaux then wondered about more cleanup, and Pearson said he would pursue that on the floor.

That still left the matter of Pope’s amendment, which essentially would undo Pearson’s. It failed 4-5 in a mirror image of the previous vote. After that, Pearson asked for passage of it all, which he got without objection.

Thank you for convincing me to join this committee.
Rep. Kirk Talbot, tiredly, to Pearson, towards the end of a long committee session with lots of technical details sprinkled throughout – a half hour before the nearly four-hour session ended. A quarter hour later, Salter, before discussing HB 426, gave a global apology to anybody he ever had appointed to this committee.

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