Northeast Times

Boyle brothers propose new bill

State Reps. Kev­in and Brendan Boyle want to deny pen­sions for gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees con­victed of sex crimes.

There are dif­fer­ent kinds of bad.

A state em­ploy­ee who com­mits fraud while on the job or while us­ing state re­sources loses his pen­sion if he gets con­victed of that crime. But if the same guy is con­victed of a crime that man­dates re­gis­tra­tion as a sex of­fend­er un­der Megan’s Law, he keeps his pen­sion.

State Reps. Kev­in and Brendan Boyle want to erase that dif­fer­ence in pen­sion pay­outs and have sponsored a meas­ure aimed at deny­ing pen­sions to state or loc­al gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees con­victed of sex crimes.

A Phil­adelphia Daily News story pub­lished in late Ju­ly de­tailed how former pub­lic em­ploy­ees con­tin­ued to get pen­sion pay­ments even though they were con­victed of felon­ies oth­er than fraud that they com­mit­ted on or off their jobs. The art­icle said le­gis­lat­ive ac­tion would be re­quired to change how con­victed gov­ern­ment work­ers lose their pen­sions.

Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.) said the story made him angry, es­pe­cially since he wants to save the state’s pen­sion sys­tem.

The meas­ure, which his young­er broth­er Rep. Kev­in Boyle (D-172nd dist.) said will be in­tro­duced in Septem­ber, does not cov­er fed­er­al or non-gov­ern­ment­al work­ers. And, Kev­in Boyle said, just as they would un­der cur­rent law, those denied pen­sions would not lose what they had already con­trib­uted.

“It would be il­leg­al to take away what people have put in­to the sys­tem,” he said.

For ex­ample, he said former state Sen. Vin­cent Fumo was con­victed of us­ing his po­s­i­tion for fraud and lost his state pen­sion. He did not lose any money he had put in.

However, there’s a big dif­fer­ence in the amounts pub­lic em­ploy­ees con­trib­ute to their pen­sions and the amounts they are paid after re­tire­ment. With­in a couple years, Boyle said, they will get more money paid to them than they had put in­to the pen­sion sys­tem. 

The Boyles’ bill is a very nar­row ad­di­tion to state law, Kev­in Boyle said in an in­ter­view. It amends the cur­rent pen­sion for­feit­ure stat­ute.

Flor­ida has had a law since 2008 that is much broad­er, he said. It denies pen­sions to state and loc­al gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees con­victed of any felon­ies. That law has not been suc­cess­fully chal­lenged, Kev­in Boyle said.

“It’s the strict­est in the coun­try,” Brendan Boyle said.

The law the two rep­res­ent­at­ives are in­tro­du­cing, though much nar­row­er, is just one step to­ward get­ting le­gis­la­tion like Flor­ida’s, Kev­in Boyle said.

There have been no pre­vi­ous le­gis­lat­ive at­tempts to take pen­sions away from pub­lic em­ploy­ees con­victed of acts man­dat­ing Megan’s Law re­gis­tra­tion, Brendan Boyle stated in an e-mail to the North­east Times.

The Boyles’ meas­ure ori­gin­ally was broad­er, Kev­in Boyle said, but they real­ized the bill as ini­tially worded would not be in ac­cord with the state’s con­sti­tu­tion.

“In all like­li­hood, it would have been found it vi­ol­ated the state con­sti­tu­tion,” Brendan Boyle said. “We de­cided to take the safer course.”

The new word­ing brings the meas­ure in line with the con­sti­tu­tion, Kev­in Boyle said, and also makes it easi­er for oth­er le­gis­lat­ors to sup­port it.

It will be in­tro­duced when the state House goes back in­to ses­sion in Septem­ber. The Sen­ate also must ap­prove the bill and Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Tom Corbett must sign it for it to be­come law. ••

Con­tact John Loftus at 215-354-3110 or at jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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