Harris picks up pension reform in Senate
State Senator Andy Harris (R-Baltimore County), is busy this afternoon drafting a pair of amendments that make changes to lawmaker pension plans.
He plans to offer them tonight if they are ready.
**UPDATE** Harris said Monday night the amendments will be ready Wednesday.
The first would create a so-called “bad boy clause" in the lawmakers' pension eligibility code. This means state lawmakers would not get pensions payouts if convicted of crimes related. Harris said he drafted the bill in part because of voter outrage after former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon kept her $83,000-a-year city pension despite a jury conviction on a theft charge.
The Dixon drama, however, is not the greatest example because the proposal Harris described for us Monday is actually weaker than the Baltimore’s clause. Harris’ provision would only apply to lawmakers found guilty of felonies related to their public duties. In the city, lawmakers found guilty of any felony or any misdemeanor related to duties can't collect pensions.
(Here is a Sun story describing a protest outside of Baltimore's City Hall over the Dixon pension, and explaining why she gets to keep it.)
Harris also wants to move all lawmakers into a defined contribution (401K-type) pension plan. Currently retired lawmakers receive a defined benefit, meaning they can count on a set amount each month. Harris believes the change will save taxpayers $750,000 a year. Del. William J. Frank (R-Baltimore County) tried and failed to offer a similar amendment in the House last week.