Thursday, March 4, 2010

Proposal would ban pensions of government employees convicted of work-related felonies

Two Metairie lawmakers have filed proposed changes in the state Constitution that would bar government employees or elected officials from collecting taxpayer-financed retirement benefits if they are convicted of felonies related to their jobs.

Rep. Tony Ligi has filed House Bill 69, and Sen. Conrad Appel has filed Senate Bill 11, nearly identical bills that would give the Legislature the authority to curtail the payment of the publicly financed portion of the benefits once the individual is convicted of crimes that range from extortion and perjury to contract fraud, swindling and "intimidation to secure political contributions."

A proposed constitutional amendment needs a two-thirds vote to pass the Legislature and then must go before voters. Each proposal calls for the items to be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The bills would allow the convicted employees or officials to get the money they paid into a retirement program but not the public-funded portion. Ligi, a lawyer, said that the Legislature cannot deny people access to the money they paid into a retirement program.

The two bills would not deny public survivor benefits to the official or employee's widow or widower, minor children or physically or mentally handicapped children.

The bills also say that any taxpayer money forfeited must be returned to the retirement system from which it came to better assure future payments to other employees.

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