(Updated: 7:55 p.m.) State lawmakers in the House and the Senate like what they saw yesterday when Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington and Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, unveiled their plan to solve the pension revocation portion of the ethics reform bill.
During the regular legislative session, the House and Senate couldn’t agree on whether a judge should be able to revoke the pension of a state employee because some lawmakers believed the pension was protected under a collective bargaining agreement, while others felt if a state employee violates the law then their pension should be taken away.
The bill as it is currently drafted for Wednesday’s special session would allow a judge to revoke the pensions of public officials, municipal officials, and state employees. The new twist is that the judge will be given discretion to determine if a state employee’s pension should be entirely revoked or partially revoked.
By putting the ball in the judge’s court, it puts the unions on notice that their pensions can be revoked when their contracts expire in 2017, Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, said.
Sen. Slossberg said Connecticut is the only state that negotiates its pensions in its collective bargaining agreements. She said the new bill acknowledges that those agreements exist and sets one standard for both public employees and elected officials.
Slossberg said she expects the Attorney General to argue in court that a state employee by committing a crime breached the collective bargaining agreement with the state making it possible for the revocation of an entire pension based on the mutual breach of the contract.
Slossberg said the bill sends a strong message that “if you’re convicted of corruption, you don’t receive a public pension.”
Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said the draft language he was handed at 5 p.m. Tuesday is “good if not better than what we had.” He said he would be in favor of it, if it remains the same.
Rep. Urban, using a football analogy, said “We were at fourth and goal and the quarterback gave me the ball.” The quarterback in this analogy would be Caruso, who stepped back and let Urban negotiate the draft bill.
The draft language of the bill was negotiated between Urban and Slossberg.
Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz said Wednesday “see what happens when women are in charge.”
Of course, none of the lawmakers are counting their ethical eggs before they hatch because they all know a deal could fall through at any moment, so many are reluctant to talk about specifics or hedge their bets. For the past four years the legislature has failed to pass an ethics reform package.