Senate Bill Stripping Public Pensions for Felonies Set for Enactment

Harrisburg – A measure that would strip taxpayer-funded pensions from public officials and employees who commit job-related felonies is on its way to the Governor’s desk for consideration after receiving final approval in the Senate today, according to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) who strongly supports the measure.

“This is an important reform to state government that will make certain that those who have violated the public trust cannot skirt the consequences of their action,” Corman said. “Taxpayer money should be protected in these cases. It is my hope the Governor signs this into law.”

Senate Bill 113 was initially approved by the Senate on February 4, and was returned to the chamber for consideration after the House of Representatives made a technical amendment. It now goes to the governor for enactment.

The measure closes the “Mellow Loophole,” named after former State Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County, who in 2017 had his $245,000-a-year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.

The Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act currently requires a public employee to forfeit his or her pension only for certain crimes listed in the act. In practice, this law allows lawmakers and other public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid pension forfeiture.

Senate Bill 113 would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment.

The legislation also ensures that criminal convictions involving public officials are reported to state pension boards. Current law does not require the employee, courts, or state agencies to send copies of court records upon conviction. Instead, pension boards learn of pension forfeiture cases through agency websites and newspaper articles. Under Senate Bill 113, courts would now be required to notify state pension systems of all pension forfeiture cases.

 

Contact: Jenn Kocher – jkocher@pasen.gov or 717-787-1377