Committee Advances DiSanto Bill to Strengthen Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act

Harrisburg – Legislation introduced by State Senator John DiSanto (R-15) to ensure that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension was approved this week by the Senate Finance Committee in a unanimous, bipartisan vote.

Senate Bill 611 is now before the full Senate for consideration.

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

Senator DiSanto’s legislation 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.

In addition, the legislation ensures that such criminal convictions 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 Senator DiSanto’s bill, courts would now be required to notify state pension systems of all pension forfeiture cases.

“At a time when public pensions are wreaking havoc on state and school district budgets, it’s especially egregious that taxpayers are continuing to fund the pensions of public employees who commit felonies on the job,” DiSanto said. “It is time to require offenders to face a financial penalty for violating the public trust, including making restitution to taxpayers and paying fines out of the employee’s pension contributions.”

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801