By Andy Stonehouse
Having just been handed down what has been called a virtual life sentence — 30 to 60 years for child sexual abuse — former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will be behind bars for many years.
But Pennsylvania lawmakers are using the publicity around Sandusky's saga to try to strip public officials and state employees of their pension
benefits if they're felons.
According to the Pennsylvania Independent, despite Sandusky's multiple convictions, he won't lose his public pension, nor would a Pennsylvania teacher or a police officer who'd committed serious crimes.
Pennsylvania's Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act will strip public officials and state employees of their pensions if they are convicted of crimes related to their public office.
Republican Representative Fred Keller has introduced a bill calling for former employees to be removed from benefits paid through the State Employees' Retirement System or the Public School Employees' Retirement System, if they're found guilty of any felony or violent crime.
The House bill did not receive the support of Democratic State Rep. Greg Vitali, who said he fears the automatic rules leading to unfair denial of benefits, especially for those with long investments in the system.
"I don't think that it's simply, after many years of service, to take away a pension for something not related to the office," Vitali said. "Two people who did the same misdeeds - one loses 30 years' worth of pensions and another loses virtually no pension because he doesn't have one."
Pennsylvania's Senate Finance Committee voted to modify its existing forfeiture act to include crimes against students "who are being instructed, mentored, supervised or counseled."
Rules regarding public officials and their pensions vary widely from state to state
, the Independent found: Oklahoma and Maryland
can deny pensions if legislators are convicted of a felony in office, and West Virginia punishes those whose service is deemed "less than honorable."
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com