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NM House approves police double dipping bill

Rehired officers can make up no more than 10 percent of the workforce at any agency under the plan

Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico's House of Representatives has approved provisions for some retired law enforcement officers to return to work while also receiving pension benefits.

The Republican-dominate House voted 38-29 in favor of so-called double dipping legislation designed to help Albuquerque's police force and other local law enforcement agencies address shortfalls in staffing and difficulties with recruiting new officers.

The Democratic-led Senate has not yet voted on the bill. Republican Gov. Susan Martinez supports the plan.

The Public Employee Retirement Association that manages officer pensions opposes the use of its benefits to address staff retention issues.

Rehired officers can make up no more than 10 percent of the workforce at any agency under the plan. They would continue to contribute to a state pension fund but would not be able to accrue additional pension benefits.

That would ensure no negative impacts of pension fund balances, according to the bill's sponsor Rep. Larry Larranaga, R-Albuquerque.

"The problem that we are having is that we just can't get up to the 1,000-police workforce that Albuquerque needs," he said.

Other lawmakers worried that rehiring retirees eventually would aggravate personnel problems and hurt morale by limiting career advancement opportunities for ambitious younger officers.

New Mexico amended rules at the Public Employees Retirement Association in 2010 to stop any more double-dipping in response to concerns about the fund's long-term solvency.

Rehired retirees would be eligible to receive annual 2 percent cost-of-living adjustments to their pension. Participation would be limited to officers who retired before the end of 2015. They can only return to work for up to five years under the proposed rules.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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