STAND. COM. REP. NO.2395
RE: S.B. No. 3010
Honorable Robert Bunda
President of the Senate
Twenty-First State Legislature
Regular Session of 2002
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Labor, to which was referred S.B. No. 3010 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO PENSION AND RETIREMENT SYSTEMS,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose of this measure is to enable a firefighter who was forced to retire due to a service-related disability, and who subsequently re-enters service in a capacity other than as a firefighter, to retain the two and one-half per cent annual pension accrual rate earned as a firefighter.
Testimony in support of the measure was received from the State Fire Council, the City and County of Honolulu's Fire and Police Departments, and the Hawaii State Fire Fighters Association. The Employees' Retirement System submitted comments on the measure.
Your Committee finds that under existing law, firefighters are provided with a higher annual pension accrual rate than normal class A, contributory members of the Employees' Retirement System. This accelerated pension accrual rate is provided due in part to the risks taken by firefighters.
However, if a firefighter suffers a service-related disability and can no longer fulfill his or her duties, the firefighter is medically disqualified from service as a firefighter. As a consequence to this disqualification, if the medically disqualified firefighter takes a subsequent public sector position, that firefighter loses the right to have the years of service as a firefighter computed at the accelerated pension accrual rate.
Your Committee believes that firefighters who become medically disqualified due to a service-related disability should not have their retirement benefits penalized for assuming the risks of their jobs as firefighters.
Your Committee has amended the measure by:
(1) Limiting the ability to retain the two and one-half percent pension accrual rate earned as a firefighter to only those firefighters who have at least ten years of credited service as a firefighter;
(2) Recasting the proposed language to better reflect the intended purpose of the measure, which is to allow a firefighter who suffers from a service-related disability to retain the two and one-half percent pension accrual rate earned as a firefighter.
The amended measure clarifies that a qualified firefighter who suffers from a service-related disability need not retire first and subsequently re-enter service in order to retain the two and one-half per cent pension accrual rate earned as a firefighter. All that is required of the disabled firefighter is to obtain verification from the employer's physician that the firefighter has been medically disqualified from service as a firefighter. The amended measure also reserves this privilege to only those firefighters who have vested in the Employees Retirement System with at least ten years of service as a firefighter.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Labor that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 3010, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 3010, S.D. 1, and be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Labor,
BOB NAKATA, Chair