The Nevada Senate on Monday voted unanimously to approve a bill making major changes to the Public Employee Retirement System, including reducing the annual credit toward retirement from 2.5 percent of salary to 2.25 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the changes will make a major difference in the cost of PERS.
“This bill is conservatively estimated to save PERS about a billion dollars every decade,” he told fellow Senators.
SB406 says that any PERS employee convicted of certain felonies related to their duties of employment forfeits all rights and benefits to a retirement. That includes accepting bribes, embezzlement or theft of public money, perjury and conspiracy.
The bill orders that PERS return those felons, without interest, all contributions they have made to the system.
It also mandates that other than police-fire members, retirees be at least 65 before retiring if they have five years of service, 62 if at least 10 years service, age 55 if they have 30 years of service.
Public employees with 33 1/3 years of service would be allowed to retire at any age without having their benefit reduced.
The legislation applies only to those public employees hired on or after July 1 of this year. SB406 goes to the Assembly for consideration.
For any member killed in the line of duty or in the course of their employment, the bill authorizes the surviving spouse to receive either 50 percent of the deceased worker’s salary or 100 percent of their retirement allowance, whichever is greater.
SB406 also mandates that, going forward, all judicial members of PERS pay half of their retirement premiums. Existing judges don’t contribute to their retirement.
The Senate also passed Roberson’s bill changing some of the rules surrounding collective bargaining by public employee groups.
First, SB241 excludes school administrators who make more than $120,000 from membership in a collective bargaining unit. In addition, it requires that a new school principal become an at-will employee during his or her first three years in that job and returns the principal to at-will status if, for two years in a row, the school’s rating drops or if half or more teachers in the school ask for a transfer.
It doubles the number of bargaining sessions employee groups must participate in before they can push the contract to an arbitrator and requires that an arbitrator be selected at least 330 days before the end of the existing contract.
SB241 was approved on a 15-4 vote with Democrats Tick Segerblom and Debbie Smith absent.