Fallin signs firefighter pension bill
Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law Friday that backers said will put the Oklahoma Firefighter Pension and Retirement System on a path to long-term stability. House Bill 2078 increases the years of service for new firefighters from 20 to 22 in order to receive retirement benefits, the years for new firefighters to become vested from 10 to 11 and increases the minimum age for new firefighters to receive retirement benefits to 50. It increases employee contributions to the pension system from 8 percent to 9 percent, city contributions from 13 percent to 14 percent and state contributions from 34 percent to 36 percent. It also deals with the firefighter pension system's deferred retirement option. Participating firefighters can receive either a 7.5 percent return on their investment or the system's annual investment returns minus 2 percent, whichever is greater. It calls for firefighters to receive the annual investment returns minus 1 percent. “The passage of the firefighter pension reform bill required teamwork and resolve,” said Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, the bill's author. “The downward trend of the plan will be negated. The future of the system will be significantly more secure.” The pension system is currently funded at 61 percent. The unfunded liability grew by $100 million last year and has an unfunded liability of $1.1 billion. HB 2078 takes effect Nov. 1.
Absentee ballot change becomes law
A bill signed by Gov. Mary Fallin will help voters who are not physically able to travel to the county election board send a person in their place to make an application for an absentee ballot. Senate Bill 276, by Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, and Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, requires that the person sent to make application be at least 16 years old and that person can only apply for one voter. It took immediate effect upon being signed into law. “This bill limits a single individual to one absentee ballot application on behalf of another person to make sure it is not a vehicle for voter fraud,” Bass said.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU