The House Appropriations Committee voted on Wednesday to kill the bills relating to whether or not a legislator could serve in the House or Senate and still draw PERS retirement.
It has been the position of Speaker of the House Philip Gunn that state law does not allow for this action to take place.
Four freshmen Representatives – Rep. Andrews, Rep. Goodin, Rep. Darnell and recently resigned Rep. Blackledge – would all have been impacted if the bills made it through the process and the law was changed.
“This issue has been before us since day one and there are some things you just couldn’t do. You’d have to change law,” said Rep. John Read, Chair of Appropriations.
Read said at the beginning Speaker Gunn told those involved to file bills to address the matter and they would be entertained in committee. That is what happened Wednesday. HB 601 and HB 604 were both taken up and voted down by members.
One major hold up on any statute change is a long awaited ruling from the IRS on the PERS decision and opinion issued by previous Attorney General Jim Hood. While, that decision could come out within the next week, Read said it would not impact the current Session.
“Even if the IRS sides with PERS it will not impact the Legislature this year,” Read said. Lawmakers would have to come back in 2021 to try and make changes.
Read noted that there was some dialogue in the meeting with members but ultimately the bills were voted down by an overwhelming majority.
“I was very pleased with the way it went. We all walked away more informed,” said Read.
He also added that through conversation it was made clear that the Speaker would not have had the authority to change the rules through the House Management Committee as some have suggested.