Kiss Retirement Goodbye



By:Jeremy Alford

The chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee wants to take another shot at stripping elected officials of certain retirement benefits if they’re convicted of a crime related to their office. A similar measure was debated during the ethics special session in February but failed to win approval. Opposition stemmed in part from the severity of the proposal, with lawmakers worrying that innocent spouses and children might wind up paying for someone else’s sins. Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, says his revised proposal, Senate Bill 27, would garnish only a portion of the convicted official’s retirement — enough to cover the cost of their incarceration or any related fines, penalties or restitution. “We don’t want to jeopardize any families or leave them destitute just because a public official makes a mistake,” Gautreaux says. “It’s also in line with what many other states are already doing, so we know it can be done successfully.” Gautreaux admits that his most substantial challenge may be convincing the state’s four major retirement systems not to oppose the bill.

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