The Lead

Pa. House committee advances expanded public employee pension forfeiture bill

By: - March 13, 2019 10:14 am

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to advance legislation beefing up the list of offenses that would require public officials and employees to forfeit their taxpayer-funded pensions.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin, adds perjury and bribery to the list of offenses that’ll cost anyone on the public payroll — from state employees and legislators to rank-and-file bureaucrats, their state retirement.

The bill also closes loopholes that let public officials be found guilty of federal charges but still qualify for state pensions. Previous laws only listed state crimes, not federal.

The loophole is named for former Democratic state Sen. Bob Mellow, of Lackawanna County, who won a lawsuit in late 2017 to have his pension restored off the technicality.

Mellow pleaded guilty to a federal charged of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

“I thank [Judiciary Committee] Chairman [Rob] Kauffman for his timely consideration of [the bill] SB 113 and encourage House leadership to expedite the bill for a final vote,” DiSanto said in a statement. “It is past time we ensure lawbreakers face the consequences for violating the public trust. Taxpayers expect and deserve nothing less.”

The Senate voted 49-0 on Feb. 4 to send the bill to the House. 

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.