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HomeNewsArchivesGovernor Signals Approval of Law Restoring Benefits to Emergency Workers

Governor Signals Approval of Law Restoring Benefits to Emergency Workers

April 16, 2007 — Efforts by the Legislature to restore certain retirement benefits to emergency-service workers garnered support Monday from the governor, who also advised senators to conduct and fund a proper analysis on all future bills affecting the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS).
In a short letter to Senate President Usie R. Richards, Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. said he had signed into law the comprehensive appropriations and policy bill recently approved by the Legislature. Among other things, the bill repeals three sections of last year's controversial Act 6905. (See "New Bill 'Spells Relief' for EMTs and Class-III Employees.")
These sections of the act:
— raised the retirement age from 50 to 55 for emergency-service workers who had completed 30 years of service and were hired prior to Oct. 1, 2005;
— raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 for emergency employees who had completed at least 10 but than less than 30 years of credited service and were hired prior to Oct. 1, 2005; and
— mandated that emergency workers hired after Oct. 1, 2005, pay into GERS at a higher rate and have 25 years of credited service before they are able to receive their full annuity. (Prior to the introduction of Act 6905, these employees would have been eligible to receive full annuity after completing 20 years of service.)
The bill signed into law on Monday simply cuts out these changes, thus returning the employees' retirement requirement and benefits to the way they were before Act 6905 was passed.
"In effect, this action has undone what was improperly done in the first instance," deJongh wrote in his letter to Richards, explaining that Act 6905 was passed and implemented without the "requisite analysis."
DeJongh had little to say about the rest of the bill, which was approved almost in its entirety. However, line-item vetoes were applied to two sections of the bill — one that places the chief justice of the V.I. Supreme Court on the local commission of uniform state laws, and another that deals with how V.I Code law books and pamphlets are priced.
Placing the Chief Supreme Court Justice — a member of the third branch of government — on the uniform laws commission — located under the Legislature, or first branch of government– would violate the separation-of-powers doctrine, deJongh wrote.
A conflict of interest may also ensue if the chief justice, as a member of the commission, has to act on a law that may also come before him for a legal review, deJongh added.
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April 16, 2007 -- Efforts by the Legislature to restore certain retirement benefits to emergency-service workers garnered support Monday from the governor, who also advised senators to conduct and fund a proper analysis on all future bills affecting the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS).
In a short letter to Senate President Usie R. Richards, Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. said he had signed into law the comprehensive appropriations and policy bill recently approved by the Legislature. Among other things, the bill repeals three sections of last year's controversial Act 6905. (See "New Bill 'Spells Relief' for EMTs and Class-III Employees.")
These sections of the act:
-- raised the retirement age from 50 to 55 for emergency-service workers who had completed 30 years of service and were hired prior to Oct. 1, 2005;
-- raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 for emergency employees who had completed at least 10 but than less than 30 years of credited service and were hired prior to Oct. 1, 2005; and
-- mandated that emergency workers hired after Oct. 1, 2005, pay into GERS at a higher rate and have 25 years of credited service before they are able to receive their full annuity. (Prior to the introduction of Act 6905, these employees would have been eligible to receive full annuity after completing 20 years of service.)
The bill signed into law on Monday simply cuts out these changes, thus returning the employees' retirement requirement and benefits to the way they were before Act 6905 was passed.
"In effect, this action has undone what was improperly done in the first instance," deJongh wrote in his letter to Richards, explaining that Act 6905 was passed and implemented without the "requisite analysis."
DeJongh had little to say about the rest of the bill, which was approved almost in its entirety. However, line-item vetoes were applied to two sections of the bill -- one that places the chief justice of the V.I. Supreme Court on the local commission of uniform state laws, and another that deals with how V.I Code law books and pamphlets are priced.
Placing the Chief Supreme Court Justice -- a member of the third branch of government -- on the uniform laws commission -- located under the Legislature, or first branch of government-- would violate the separation-of-powers doctrine, deJongh wrote.
A conflict of interest may also ensue if the chief justice, as a member of the commission, has to act on a law that may also come before him for a legal review, deJongh added.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.