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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'Double dipping' bill passes House



The Florida House Wednesday voted 106 to 10 for a bill that would restrict double dipping among public officials.

House Bill 479, sponsored by Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, now goes to the Senate where a similar proposal has met more opposition.

The bill is a watered down version of an effort to stop all elected officials, judges, sheriffs, property appraisers, college presidents and highly paid senior management officials from “retiring’’ and returning to work to collect a pension and a salary from the same job.

The union that represents state employees and the Florida Sheriff’s Association oppose the bill, saying it would keep lower paid employees from returning to work to supplement their income. The Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents most of the state’s law enforcement community supports the bill, saying it would give younger, lower ranking officers more chances to win promotions.

The initial senate bill, sponsored by Sens. Mike Fasano, R-Port Richey; Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach; and Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, would have prohibited all public employees that are part of the Florida Retirement System from returning to work in the same system but a compromise with opponents of the bill would now allow any public employee to return to work after taking six months off. The six months hiatus would eliminate all elected officials from the ranks of double dippers, but would still allow college presidents and senior management officials to return after a six month vacation.

Both House and Senate versions now being considered would prohibit returning retirees from qualifying to seek a second pension thereby eliminating triple dipping.

Rep. Bill Heller, D-St Petersburg, strongly supported the bill on the House floor, saying no other issue has drawn as many emails from outraged citizens.

”It is something that impacts an awful lot of individuals – they feel very strongly about the issue,’’ Heller said.

Those voting against the bill Wednesday were: Reps. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami; Marti Coley, R-Marianna; Gwyn Clarke-Reed, D-Pompano Beach; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Betty Reed, D-Tampa; Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee; Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood; Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando; Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale; and Charles Van Sant, R-Palatka.

Lucy Morgan, St. Petersburg Times


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:55pm]


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