Bill S1133-2013

Provides that any state officer or local officer convicted of a felony involving breach of public trust be subject to forfeiture of pension benefits

Provides that any state officer or local officer convicted of a felony involving breach of public trust be subject to forfeiture of pension rights or retirement benefits.

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  • Feb 19, 2014: OPINION REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • Jan 13, 2014: TO ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR OPINION
  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • Feb 6, 2013: OPINION REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • Jan 11, 2013: TO ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR OPINION
  • Jan 9, 2013: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S1133

TITLE OF BILL:

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY proposing an amendment to section 7 of article 5 of the constitution, in relation to forfeiture of pension rights or retirement benefits upon conviction of a felony related to public employment

PURPOSE:

Provides that any state officer or local officer convicted of a felony involving breach of public trust be subject to forfeiture of pension benefits.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Adds a new subdivision (a) to article 5 section 7 of the constitution to allow a state officer or local officer who is convicted of a felony related to public employment to be subject to forfeiture of rights and privileges under the public retirement system or pension plan in such manner as provided by law.

JUSTIFICATION:

Currently, New York State has no policy regarding the forfeiture of pension benefits by a state officer or local officer who has been convicted of a crime. No matter how serious the offense or how grossly a state officer or local officer has abused his or her public position, current law regulating pension plans for state employees makes no provision for forfeiture. As it stands, an employee who meets the age and length of service requirement for pension collection contained in the New York's Retirement and Social Security Law is entitled to benefits at the public's expense, regardless of their conviction record.

When an elected official is sworn into office, he or she must sign a solemn Oath stating that they will uphold the laws and the Constitution that govern New York State. This Oath sets the highest standard for integrity - the public's trust. A violation of that trust, while in office, demands pecuniary as well as criminal penalty.

Numerous bills have been introduced in past legislative sessions that seek to revoke or reduce pension or other retirement benefits of elected officials who are convicted of a crime related to their employment. Because none of the legislation contends with the contractual relationship of a public pension under the Constitution, constitutionality is in question. Article 5 Section 7 of the constitution sets out a two-part articulation of the public pension right. First, membership in a retirement system is a contractual relationship. Second, because of that relationship, pension benefits cannot be reduced or impaired. Therefore, it is likely that the proposals are unconstitutional.

This constitutional amendment provides for legislative action to permit loss of the publicly funded portion of retirement benefits or pension rights as one of the consequences of misusing positions of public trust.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

2011/2012 - S.2768 Remained in Senate Committee on Judiciary

FISCAL IMPACT:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

Resolved (if the Assembly concur), That the foregoing amendment be referred to the first regular legislative session convening after the next succeeding general election of members of the Assembly, and, in conformity with section 1 of article 19 of the constitution, be published for 3 months previous to the time of such election.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1133 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sens. BRESLIN, KRUEGER, MONTGOMERY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY proposing an amendment to section 7 of article 5 of the constitution, in relation to forfeiture of pension rights or retirement benefits upon conviction of a felony related to public employment Section 1. RESOLVED (if the Assembly concur), That section 7 of arti- cle 5 of the constitution be amended to read as follows: S 7. After July first, nineteen hundred forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired. ANY STATE OFFICER OR LOCAL OFFICER, AS SUCH TERMS ARE DEFINED IN SECTION TWO OF THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW, WHO IS CONVICTED OF A FELONY INVOLVING BREACH OF PUBLIC TRUST SHALL BE SUBJECT TO FORFEITURE OF RIGHTS OR PRIVILEGES UNDER A PUBLIC RETIREMENT SYSTEM OR PENSION PLAN IN SUCH MANNER AS MAY BE PROVIDED BY LAW. S 2. RESOLVED (if the Assembly concur), That the foregoing amendment be referred to the first regular legislative session convening after the next succeeding general election of members of the assembly, and, in conformity with section 1 of article 19 of the constitution, be published for 3 months previous to the time of such election. EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD89019-01-3

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