No Resolution in Sight Over Bill Proposing Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Officials

Lawmakers in Albany are pushing several major issues to the last minute, including renewing rent regulations and mayoral control of city schools. With no resolution in sight, though, yet another bill is likely to die when the session ends next week. Zack Fink filed this report.

In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to a package of ethics reforms that included a requirement that public employees forfeit their pensions if they're convicted of a felony.

The Senate passed that reform as part of the budget but at the last minute, the Assembly pulled the bill.

"It's unacceptable,"said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

Now, Assembly Democrats are moving a new version of the forfeiture bill that more strictly defines who would be forced to lose their pensions. 

"It's not an agreed upon bill. A bill that actually waters down the pension forfeiture to have specific exclusions for non-elected officials," Kolb said.

The new bill would limit pension forfeiture to elected officials and high-level government policy makers.

Support for the original legislation increased after the high-profile corruption arrest earlier this year of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. 

The bill's Assembly sponsor says Republicans are overreacting to the new version. 

"I think that misses the point. This bill is a solid bill that New Yorkers can get behind," said Assemblyman David Buchwald.

The Senate has no plans to take up the amended version of the forfeiture bill. 

"You just have to have passage before the end of session. If they don't take it up next week, they can pass it next year," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

"There is certainly time for them to do that. The bill has been in print for a number of weeks," Buchwald said.

In a session marred by scandals, some believe a pension forfeiture bill would be great way for Albany to send a message that they won't tolerate corruption. Instead, that appears to be another issue that will fall off the table due to the inability of leaders to agree. 

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