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SB486 SUB1 Senate Bill 486 History

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COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE

FOR

Senate Bill No. 486

(By Senators Palumbo, Tucker, Laird, Edgell, Foster, Wills, Kessler (Mr. President) and Klempa)

 ____________

[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;

reported February 8, 2012.]

____________

 

A BILL to amend and reenact §51-9-4, §51-9-6, §51-9-6a and §51-9-6b of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to the judicial retirement system; reducing the contribution rate of judges; removing the limitations imposed on judges first appointed or elected after July 1, 2005; authorizing the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to annually establish future participant contribution rates based on the State Actuary’s report; and limiting the participant contribution rate to ten and one-half percent of a participant’s salary.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §51-9-4, §51-9-6, §51-9-6a and §51-9-6b of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 9. RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR JUDGES OF COURTS OF RECORD.

§51-9-4. Required percentage contributions from salaries; any termination of required contributions prior to actual retirement disallowed; leased employees; maximum allowable and qualified military service; qualifiable prosecutorial service.

    (a) Every person who is now serving or shall hereafter serve as a judge of any court of record of this state shall pay into the Judges’ Retirement Fund six percent of the salary received by such person out of the state Treasury: Provided, That when a judge becomes eligible to receive benefits from such trust fund by actual retirement, no further payment by him or her shall be required, since such employee contribution, in an equal treatment sense, ceases to be required in the other retirement systems of the state, also, only after actual retirement: Provided, however, That on and after January 1, 1995, every person who is then serving or shall thereafter serve as a judge of any court of record in this state shall pay into the Judges’ Retirement Fund nine percent of the salary received by that person: Provided further, That consistent with the salary increase granted to judges of courts of record during the 2005 regular legislative session and to changes effectuated in judicial retirement by provisions enacted during the third extraordinary legislative session of 2005, on and after July 1, 2005, every person who is then serving or shall thereafter serve as a judge of any court of record in this state shall pay into the Judges’ Retirement Fund ten and one-half percent of the salary received by that person: And provided further, That on and after July 1, 2012,except as provided in subsection(b)of this section, every person who is then serving or shall thereafter serve as a judge of any court of record in this state and who elects to participate in this retirement system shall pay into the Judges’ Retirement Fund seven percent of the salary received. Any prior occurrence or practice to the contrary, in any way allowing discontinuance of required employee contributions prior to actual retirement under this retirement system, is rejected as erroneous and contrary to legislative intent and as violative of required equal treatment and is hereby nullified and discontinued fully, with the State Auditor to require such contribution in every instance hereafter, except where no contributions are required to be made under any of the provisions of this article.

    (b) On and after July 1, 2013, every person who is serving or shall hereafter serve as a judge of any court of record of this state and who elects to participate in this retirement system shall contribute to the fund an amount determined by the board. This amount will be based on the annual actuarial valuation prepared by the State Actuary; Provided, That the contribution will be no less than seven percent or no more than ten and one-half percent of the participant’s annual compensation.

    (b) (c)An individual who is a leased employee shall not be eligible to participate in the system. For purposes of this system, a “leased employee” means any individual who performs services as an independent contractor or pursuant to an agreement with an employee leasing organization or other similar organization. If a question arises regarding the status of an individual as a leased employee, the board has the final power to decide the question.

    (c) (d)In drawing warrants for the salary checks of judges, the State Auditor shall deduct from the amount of each such salary check six percent thereof, which amount so deducted shall be credited by the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to the trust fund: Provided, That on or after January 1, 1995, the amount so deducted and credited shall be nine percent of each such salary check: Provided, however, That consistent with the salary increase granted to judges of courts of record during the 2005 regular legislative session and to changes effectuated in judicial retirement by provisions enacted during the third extraordinary legislative session of 2005, on or after July 1, 2005, the amount so deducted and credited shall be ten and one-half percent of each such salary check: And provided further, That on and after July 1, 2012,except as provided in subsection (b)of this section, the amount so deducted and credited shall be seven percent of each salary check: And provided further, That on and after July 1, 2013,the amount so deducted and credited will be determined by the Board.

    (d) (e)Any judge seeking to qualify military service to be claimed as credited service, in allowable aggregate maximum amount up to five years, shall be entitled to be awarded the same without any required payment in respect thereof to the Judges’ Retirement Fund.

    (e)(f) Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this section, contributions, benefits and service credit with respect to qualified military service shall be provided in accordance with Section 414(u) of the Internal Revenue Code. For purposes of this section, “qualified military service” has the same meaning as in Section 414(u) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Retirement Board is authorized to determine all questions and make all decisions relating to this section and may promulgate rules relating to contributions, benefits and service credit pursuant to the authority granted to the retirement board in section one, article ten-d, chapter five of this code to comply with Section 414(u) of the Internal Revenue Code.

    (f) (g) Any judge holding office as such on the effective date of the amendments to this article adopted by the Legislature at its 1987 regular session who seeks to qualify service as a prosecuting attorney as credited service, which service credit must have been earned prior to the year 1987, shall be required to pay into the Judges’ Retirement Fund nine percent of the annual salary which was actually received by such person as prosecuting attorney during the time such prosecutorial service was rendered prior to the year 1987 and for which credited service is being sought, together with applicable interest. No judge whose term of office shall commence after the effective date of such amendments to this article shall be eligible to claim any credit for service rendered as a prosecuting attorney as eligible service for retirement benefits under this article, nor shall any time served as a prosecutor after the year 1988 be considered as eligible service for any purposes of this article.

§51-9-6. Eligibility for and payment of benefits.

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in sections five, six-d, twelve and thirteen of this article, and subject to the provisions of subsection (e) of this section, any person who is now serving, or who shall hereafter serve, as a judge of any court of record of this state and shall have served as such judge for a period of not less than sixteen full years and shall have reached the age of sixty-five years, or who has served as judge of such court or of that court and other courts of record of the state for a period of sixteen full years or more (whether continuously or not and whether said service be entirely before or after this article became effective, or partly before and partly after said date, and whether or not said judge shall be in office on the date he or she shall become eligible to benefits hereunder) and shall have reached the age of sixty-five years, or who is now serving, or who shall hereafter serve, as a judge of any court of record of this state and shall have served as such judge for a period of not less than twenty-four full years, regardless of age, shall, upon a determination and certification of his or her eligibility as provided in section nine hereof, be paid from the fund annual retirement benefits, so long as he or she shall live, in an amount equal to seventy-five percent of the annual salary of the office from which he or she has retired based upon such salary of such office and as such salary may be changed from time to time during the period of his or her retirement and the amount of his or her retirement benefits shall be based upon and be equal to seventy-five percent of the highest annual salary of such office for any one calendar year during the period of his or her retirement and shall be payable in monthly installments: Provided, That such retirement benefits shall be paid only after such judge has resigned as such or, for any reason other than his or her impeachment, his or her service as such has ended: Provided, however, That every such person seeking to retire and to receive the annual retirement benefits provided by this subsection must have served a minimum of twelve years as a sitting judge of any such court of record: Provided further, That every individual who is appointed or elected for the first time as judge of a court of record of this state after July 1, 2005, who subsequently seeks to retire and to receive the annual retirement benefits provided by this subsection must have served a minimum of fourteen years as a sitting judge of any court of record.

    (b) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article with the exception of sections twelve-a and twelve-b, any person who is now serving or who shall hereafter serve as a judge of any court of record of this state and who shall have accumulated sixteen years or more of credited service, at least twelve years of which is as a sitting judge of a court of record, and who has attained the age of sixty-two years or more but less than the age of sixty-five years, may elect to retire from his or her office and to receive the pension to which he or she would otherwise be entitled to receive at age sixty-five, but with an actuarial reduction of pension benefit to be established as a reduced annuity receivable throughout retirement: Provided, That every individual who is appointed or elected for the first time as judge of a court of record of this state after July 1, 2005, who subsequently seeks to retire and to receive the annual retirement benefits provided by this subsection must have served a minimum of fourteen years as a sitting judge of any court of record. The reduced percentage (less than seventy-five percent) actuarially computed, determined and established at time of retirement in respect of this reduced pension benefit shall also continue and be applicable to any subsequent new annual salary set for the office from which such judge has retired and as such salary may be changed from time to time during the period of his or her retirement.

    (c) In determining eligibility for the benefits provided by this section, active full-time duty (including leaves and furloughs) in the Armed Forces of the United States shall be eligible for qualification as credited military service for the purposes of this article by any judge with twelve or more years actual service as a sitting judge of a court of record, such awardable military service to not exceed five years: Provided, That in determining eligibility for the benefits provided by this section for every individual who is appointed or elected for the first time as judge of a court of record of this state after July 1, 2005, active full-time duty (including leaves and furloughs) in the Armed Forces of the United States qualifies as credited service for the purposes of this article for any judge with fourteen or more years actual service as a sitting judge of a court of record of this state, the awardable military service not to exceed five years.

    (d) If a judge of a court of record who is presently sitting as such on the effective date of the amendments to this section enacted by the Legislature at its regular session held in the year 1987 and who has served for a period of not less than twelve full years and has made payments into the Judges’ Retirement Fund as provided in this article for each month during which he or she served as judge, following the effective date of this section, any portion of time which he or she had served as prosecuting attorney in any county in this state shall qualify as years of service, if such judge shall pay those sums required to be paid pursuant to the provisions of section four of this article: Provided, That any term of office as prosecuting attorney, or part thereof, commencing after December 31, 1988, shall not hereafter in any way qualify as eligible years of service under this retirement system. For purposes of this article, eligible service as a “prosecuting attorney” or as a “prosecutor” does not include any service as an assistant prosecuting attorney. The amendment to this subsection during the third extraordinary session in the year 2005 is not for the purpose of changing existing law but is intended to clarify the intent of the Legislature as to existing law regarding eligibility for benefits for service as a prosecuting attorney since its initial enactment and this clarification shall be applied retrospectively to the effective date of this section and any predecessor acts in which service as a prosecuting attorney was initially determined by statute to qualify as eligible years of service under the retirement system provided by this article.

    (e) Any retirement benefit accruing under the provisions of this section shall not be paid if otherwise barred under the provisions of article ten-a, chapter five of this code.

    (f) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article, forfeitures under the system shall not be applied to increase the benefits any member would otherwise receive under the system.

§51-9-6a. Eligibility benefits; service and retirement of judges over sixty-five years of age.

    Any judge of a court of record of this state who shall have served for a period of not less than eight full years after attaining the age of sixty-five years and who shall have made payments into the Judges’ Retirement Fund as provided in this article for each month during which he or she served as such judge following the effective date of this section, shall be subject to all the applicable terms and provisions of this article, not inconsistent with the provisions hereof, and shall receive retirement benefits in an amount equal to seventy-five percent of the annual salary of the office from which he or she has retired based upon such salary of such office as such salary may be changed from time to time during the period of his or her retirement and the amount of his or her retirement benefits shall be based upon and be equal to seventy-five percent of the highest annual salary of such office for any one calendar year during the period of his or her retirement and shall be payable in monthly installments. If such judge shall become incapacitated to perform his or her said duties before the expiration of his or her said term and after serving for six years thereof, and upon the acceptance of his or her resignation as in this article provided, he or she shall be paid the annual retirement benefits as herein provided so long as he or she shall live. The provisions of this section shall prevail over any language to the contrary in this article contained, except those provisions of sections twelve-a and twelve-b of this article: Provided, That no individual who is appointed or elected for the first time as judge of a court of record of this state after July 1, 2005, is eligible for retirement under this section.

§51-9-6b. Annuities for surviving spouses and surviving dependent children of judges; automatic escalation and increase of annuity benefit; proration designation by judge permitted.

    (a) There shall be paid, from the fund created or continued by section two of this article, or from such funds as may be appropriated by the Legislature for such purpose, an annuity to the surviving spouse of a judge, if such judge at the time of his or her death is eligible for the retirement benefits provided by any of the provisions of this article, or who has, at death, actually served five years or more as a sitting judge of any court of record of this state, exclusive of any other service credit to which such judge may otherwise be entitled, and who dies either while in office or after resignation or retirement from office pursuant to the provisions of this article. Said annuity shall amount to forty percent of the annual salary of the office which said judge held at his or her death or from which he or she resigned or retired. In the event said salary is increased or decreased while an annuitant is receiving the benefits hereunder, his or her annuity shall amount to forty percent of the new salary: Provided, That with respect to any individual who is appointed or elected for the first time as judge of a court of record of this state after July 1, 2005, any annuity to the surviving spouse of the judge shall be an amount equal to forty percent of the judge’s final average salary: Provided, however, That the annuitant is not entitled to an increase in benefits by virtue of any increase in the salaries of the offices of circuit court judge or Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals. The annuity granted hereunder shall accrue monthly and shall be due and payable in monthly installments on the first business day of the month following the month for which the annuity shall have accrued. Such annuity shall commence on the first day of the month in which said judge dies and shall, subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, terminate upon the death of the annuitant or shall terminate upon the remarriage of the annuitant.

    (b) If there be no surviving spouse at the time of death of a judge who dies after serving five years or more as a sitting judge of any court of record and such judge leaves surviving him or her any dependent child or children, such dependent child or children shall receive an amount equal to twenty percent of the annual salary of the office which said judge held at the time of his or her death: Provided, That the total of all such annuities payable to each such child shall not exceed in the aggregate an amount equal to forty percent of such salary. Such annuity shall continue as to each such child until: (i) He or she or she attains the age of eighteen years; or (ii) attains the age of twenty-three years so long as such child remains a full-time student. The Auditor Board shall by legislative rule establish the criteria for determining a person’s status as a full-time student within the meaning and intent of this subsection. In the event there are surviving any such judge three or more dependent children, then each such child’s annuity shall be proratably reduced in order that the aggregate annuity received by all such dependent children does not exceed forty percent of such salary and the amount to be so received by any such child shall continue throughout the entire period during which each such child is eligible to receive such annuity. The provisions of this subsection shall also apply to those circumstances and situations wherein a surviving spouse of a deceased judge shall die while receiving benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and who shall leave surviving dependent children of such deceased judge who would be entitled to benefits under this subsection as if they had succeeded to such annuity benefits upon the death of such judge in the first instance. In the event the salary of judges is increased or decreased while an annuitant is receiving benefits pursuant to this subsection, the annuities payable shall be likewise increased or decreased proportionately to reflect such change in salary: Provided, however, That with respect to any individual who is appointed or elected for the first time as judge of a court of record of this state after July 1, 2005, any annuity to any children of the judge shall be calculated with respect to the judge’s final average salary: Provided further That the child is not entitled to an increase in benefits by virtue of any increase in the salaries of the offices of circuit court judge or Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals. The annuities granted hereunder shall accrue monthly and shall be due and payable in monthly installments on the same day as surviving spouses’ benefits are required to be paid. Such annuities shall commence on the first day of the month in which any such dependent child becomes eligible for benefits hereunder and shall terminate on the last day of the month during which such eligibility ceases.

 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to reduce the retirement contribution rate for judges of courts of record and to require the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to establish all future contribution rates based on the State Actuary’s report. This bill also removes the limitations on pension benefits and eligibility for judges appointed or elected after July 1, 2005.

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