News from the
NYS Assembly Committee on
|Sheldon Silver, Speaker Peter J. Abbate Jr., Chairman Summer 2004|
The Assembly Committee on Governmental Employees has jurisdiction over proposals pertaining to civil service requirements and regulations (including the Taylor Law, ratifying state employee contracts, hearing procedures and civil service lists) and to public pensions and the public pension system. A majority of the proposals pertain to pension systems.
While negotiations on the State budget and other legislative priorities continue, the Governmental Employees Committee has worked on and passed a number of legislative initiatives. They are highlighted in this newsletter.
I would like to thank all the committee members and staff for their dedication and attention to the needs of our State’s public employees. Additionally, I would like to thank the public employee unions, their representatives and the many government officials whose input on legislation is invaluable.
If you have any questions or concerns about issues or legislation before the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact me.
World Trade Center Rescue and Recovery Legislation
In 2002, the Assembly passed legislation that would establish a presumptive disability retirement related to exposure to elements in connection with the World Trade Center tragedy of September 11, 2001 (A10581 of 2002).
Virtually, thousands of public employees including police, fire, correction officers and other civilian workers rendered rescue and recovery services at the site of the former World Trade Center. These workers were exposed to numerous environmental hazards which may impact their health in future years.
During the 2003 Legislative Session the legislation was amended and the Senate joined the Assembly in passing legislation that would provide that any injury or illness, including future manifestations, even after retirement, for occurrences directly related to September 11, 2001, be presumptively eligible for an accidental disability retirement. This coverage would apply to those who retired after September 11, 2001, and subsequently contracted such disease or disability. The bill also provides for a registry of those who worked at the site to further assist in tracking and documenting claims (A8517 of 2003).
The Governor vetoed that legislation due to technical flaws, but encouraged the sponsors and supporters to work to correct the defects and ensure affected public employees the assistance they deserve.
The legislation was reworked and refined this Session and passed by both the Assembly and the Senate (A11684 of 2004). The committee hopes the Governor will sign this legislation before too many of these dedicated public servants are forced to retire with uncertain futures.
Pension Relief For Local Governments
Recently the Assembly passed legislation that would change the manner in which annual employer contributions are calculated and billed in the New York State and Local Retirement Systems. The bill will:
In addition, the legislation would allow the creation and use of reserve funds by localities in paying their annual bill to the System, and allow police and fire employers who are paying off certain enhanced benefit payments to bond such payments. Bonding of a portion of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 bills would also be authorized.
State Employee Contract Updates
Many contracts between the State and bargaining units representing State employees expired. Several of these contracts have been resolved and ratified by employees. The Committee reported and the Assembly approved a series of bills to implement the following contracts:
Post Retirement Earnings Increase. Increases the amount of money a retiree may earn in a position of public service to $27,500. (A9349)
Educational Employees Health Benefits. Extends for another year the health insurance benefits of retired employees of school districts. (A9284)
Automatic Payment of Retirees’ Charitable Contributions. Authorizes the deduction of contributions to federated community campaigns from state retiree retirement allowances upon request of the retiree. SEFA, the State Employees Federated Appeal, is a joint venture of State employees, public employee unions, and not-for-profit organizations. Through SEFA, State employees provide much needed funding statewide for over 4,000 health care and human service agencies, which serve youth, families, senior citizens, single parents, the unemployed, the disabled, the sick and the homeless. (A2845)
Window Period for Lump Sum Payments Extended. Chapter 167 of the laws of 2003 authorized the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System to pay, at the election of a member upon retirement other than for disability, an actuarially determined lump sum in lieu of a retirement allowance of twenty-four hundred dollars per annum or less. The member had 120 days from the effective date of the legislation to make their election. This proposal seeks to extend the window period during which such elections can be made to June 30, 2005 so as to enable those members who missed the previous deadline to participate. (A10240)
|Chairman Abbate, NYC Comptroller Alan Hevesi and other members discuss pension reform on the floor of the Assembly.|
Civil Service Legislation
|Assemblyman Abbate meets with New York City Emergency Medical Technicians.|
20-Year and 25-Year Retirement Programs
The following bills provide improved and fair retirement benefit plans for various employees of the State and localities.
Community Correctional Center Assistants. Offers the same 25-year half-pay retirement plan to community correctional center assistants as those provided to the New York State Correction Officers. (A4436)
District Attorneys’ Investigators. Provides service retirement benefits to NYCERS members employed as investigators in the district attorneys’ offices after 20 years without reaching 55 years of age. (A5464)
TBTA Officers. Provides TBTA bridge and tunnel officers and sergeants and lieutenants with an improved retirement plan of half-pay without regard to age after having completed 20 years of service. (A5791)
NYC Probation Officers. Creates an optional twenty-five year improved benefit retirement program for New York City probation officers. (A9798)
Evidence/Property Control Specialists. Provides for a member paid twenty-five year retirement, regardless of age for Evidence and Property control Specialists employed by the New York City Police Department or by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the city of New York. (A9810)
TBTA Maintainers. Establishes an age 50/25 year retirement program for maintenance members of the TBTA. (A10278)
Peace Officer/City Investigators. Includes these members of NYCERS and NYCBERS within the benefits conferred under the optional 25-year improved benefit plan. (A10280)
Transit Cashiers. Includes transit cashier members of the New York city employees’ retirement system within the benefits conferred under the optional 25-year improved benefit plan. (A11017)
NYC Transit Authority. Establishes a 20-year retirement program for employees of the New York city transit authority. (A11605)
Disability and Line-Of-Duty Legislation
Many members of our state’s public employee workforce work at a heightened risk of becoming injured or disabled while in the performance of duty. The State needs to provide improved benefits due to the inherent risk of the job.
TBTA Officer, Sergeants, Lieutenants. Provides a 3/4 accidental disability retirement for employees of the Triborough bridge and tunnel authority employed as a bridge and tunnel officer, sergeant or lieutenant. (A3995)
Port Authority Police Officers. Provides certain benefits to police officers employed by bi-state commissions or authorities for injuries or illness incurred in the performance of duty. (A4490)
Peace Officers Unified Court System. Adds a “heart” provision for peace officers employed by the NYS unified court system. (A7917)
NYCBERS Employees. Provides an accident disability pension of 3/4 pay for members employed in the titles of campus peace officer, school safety agent, special officer, taxi and limousine inspector and parking control specialist. (A9484)
Firefighters (DMNA). Provides a performance duty disability retirement for certain disabilities incurred by firefighters employed by the division of military and naval affairs. (A11015)
State Troopers. Provides for payment of salary, wages, medical and hospital expenses of members of the state police with injuries or illness incurred in the performance of their duties. (A11016)
Urban Park Rangers. Provides a three-quarters pay accidental disability pension for persons employed by the city of New York as urban park rangers and associate urban park rangers. (A11041)
NYC EMTs. Improved ordinary death benefits (A11042) and improved performance of duty death benefits (A11040) to emergency medical technicians employed in New York city.
New York State Assembly
Governmental Employees Committee
Room 839 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
New York State Assembly
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