House Bill No. 174

Introduced By smith

By Request of the Public Employees' Retirement Board



A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act expanding the game wardens' retirement system to be a game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system for state peace officers; revising definitions; providing members of the public employees' retirement system who are peace officers with an election to join the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system; clarifying that public employees' retirement system members transferring to the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system may transfer creditable service without actuarial cost to the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system; reducing the vesting requirements; amending sections 19-8-101, 19-8-102, 19-8-301, 19-8-302, 19-8-504, 19-8-604, 19-8-701, 19-8-712, 19-8-902, and 19-8-903, MCA; and providing an effective date."



Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:



NEW SECTION. Section 1. Transfer of membership -- qualification of previous service. A person who elects to become a member of the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system pursuant to 19-8-302 may transfer the member's creditable service in the public employees' retirement system into the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system under the provisions of 19-8-902.



Section 2.  Section 19-8-101, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-101.   Definitions. Unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions apply in this chapter:

(1)  "Compensation" means remuneration paid for services to a member out of funds controlled by an employer before any deductions are made and exclusive of maintenance, allowances, and expenses.

(2)  "Final average salary" means the average monthly compensation received by a member for any 3 years of continuous service upon which contributions were made or, in the event a member has not served 3 years, the total compensation earned divided by the number of months served. Lump-sum payments for severance pay, sick leave, and annual leave paid to an employee upon termination of employment may be used in the calculation of a retirement benefit only to the extent that they are used to replace, on a month-for-month basis, the normal compensation for a month or months included in the calculation of the final average salary. A lump-sum payment may not be added to a single month's compensation.

(3)  "State game Game warden" means a state fish and game warden hired by the department of fish, wildlife, and parks and includes all warden supervisory personnel whose salaries or compensation is paid out of the department of fish, wildlife, and parks money.

(4) "Motor carrier officer" means an employee of the department of transportation appointed as a peace officer pursuant to 61-12-201.

(5) "Peace officer" or "state peace officer" means a person who by virtue of the person's employment with the state is vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or make arrests for offenses while acting within the scope of the person's authority or who is charged with specific law enforcement responsibilities on behalf of the state."



Section 3.  Section 19-8-102, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-102.   Game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system established. There is a retirement system known as the state game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system, which is governed by the provisions of chapter 2 and this chapter."



Section 4.  Section 19-8-301, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-301.   Membership -- inactive vested members -- inactive nonvested members. (1) Except as provided in 19-8-302, the following state peace officers must be covered under the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system and, beginning on the first day of employment, shall become and remain active members for as long as they are employed as peace officers:

(a) each state game warden wardens who is are assigned to law enforcement in the department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall become a member of the retirement system when first becoming a state game warden. All state game wardens are members of the retirement system so long as they are actively employed in that capacity.;

(b) motor carrier officers employed by the department of transportation;

(c) campus security officers employed by the university system;

(d) the warden and deputy wardens of the state prison system;

(e) corrections officers employed by the department of corrections;

(f) probation and parole officers employed by the department of corrections;

(g) stock inspectors and detectives employed by the department of livestock;

(h) motor vehicle inspectors employed by the department of justice; AND

(i) weights and measures inspectors employed by the department of commerce; and

(j) enforcement officers employed by the public service commission DRILL INSTRUCTORS EMPLOYED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.

(2)  A member with at least 10 5 years of membership service who terminates service and does not take a refund of the member's accumulated contributions is an inactive vested member and retains the right to purchase service and to receive a retirement benefit under the provisions of this chapter.

(3)  A member with less than 10 5 years of membership service who terminates service and leaves the member's accumulated contributions in the pension trust fund is an inactive nonvested member and is not eligible for any benefits from the retirement system. An inactive nonvested member is eligible only for a refund of the member's accumulated contributions."



Section 5.  Section 19-8-302, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-302.   Ineligibility for public Public employees' retirement system -- transfer of membership. (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (4), an eligible peace officer shall become a member of the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system on the first day of covered service.

(2) A member of the public employees' retirement system who first becomes eligible for membership in the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system on July 1, 1997, may elect to become a member of the retirement system or may continue membership in the public employees' retirement system by submitting a written election of intent to the board no later than December 31, 1997.

(3) A person who is a member of the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system assigned to law enforcement who transfers to a position involving duties other than law enforcement in the department of fish, wildlife, and parks within the same state agency may retain membership in the retirement system by filing a written election of intent with the board no later than 30 days after transfer to the new position.

(2)(4)  A person who is a member of the public employees' retirement system who transfers to a position as a state game warden covered by the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system may elect to become a member of the retirement system or may continue membership in the public employees' retirement system by filing a written election of intent with the board no later than 30 days after transfer to the new position."



Section 6.  Section 19-8-504, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-504.   State's State employer's contribution. Each month, the state treasurer employers shall pay to the pension trust fund out of the department of fish, wildlife, and parks funds, a sum equal to 8.15% of all members' salaries the total compensation paid to their covered employees."



Section 7.  Section 19-8-604, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-604.   Early retirement benefit. If a member is discontinued from service after having completed 10 5 years of membership service but before reaching retirement age, the member must, upon filing a written application with the board, be paid a retirement benefit beginning on the member's 55th birthday calculated under the provisions of 19-8-603."



Section 8.  Section 19-8-701, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-701.   Disability retirement benefit. (1) A member who is determined by the board to be disabled must be granted a disability retirement benefit in an amount calculated on the actuarial equivalent of the service retirement benefit standing to the member's credit at the time of the member's disability retirement.

(2)  If the disability is a direct result of any service to the department of fish, wildlife, and parks state in the line of duty and the member has at least 10 5 years of membership service, the member who is disabled must be retired on a disability retirement benefit of not less than one-half of the member's final average salary."



Section 9.  Section 19-8-712, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-712.   Medical examination of disability retiree -- cancellation of benefit. (1) The board, in its discretion, may require the recipient of a disability retirement benefit to undergo a medical examination. The examination must be made by a physician or surgeon at the recipient's place of residence or at another place mutually agreed on, at the board's expense. Upon the basis of the examination, the board shall determine, by reason of physical or mental capacity, whether the recipient can perform the essential elements of the position held by the recipient when the recipient retired. If the board determines that the recipient is not incapacitated, the recipient's disability retirement benefit must be canceled when the recipient is offered a position under subsection (3). If the recipient refuses to submit to a medical examination, the recipient's disability retirement benefit must be canceled when the recipient is notified of the determination of the board.

(2)  If the board determines that a recipient of a disability retirement benefit should no longer be subject to medical review, the board may grant a service retirement status to the recipient without recalculating the recipient's monthly benefit. The board shall notify the recipient in writing as to the change in status. If the recipient disagrees with the board's determination, the recipient may request the board to reconsider its action. The request for reconsideration must be made in writing within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the status change.

(3)  A recipient whose disability retirement benefit is canceled because the board has determined that the recipient is no longer incapacitated must be reinstated to the position held by the recipient immediately before the recipient's retirement or to a position in the same classification within the recipient's capacity, whichever is first open. The fact that the recipient was retired for disability may not prejudice any right to reinstatement to duty that the recipient may have or claim to have.

(4)  The department of fish, wildlife, and parks member's former employer may request a medical or psychological review as to the ability of the recipient to return to work as a game warden peace officer. If the board's findings are upheld, the department of fish, wildlife, and parks former employer shall pay the cost of the review."



Section 10.  Section 19-8-902, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-902.   Qualification of other Montana public service. (1)  (a) A member may, at any time before retirement, make a written election with the board to qualify all or any portion of the member's service credit in the public employees', highway patrol officers', firefighters' unified, sheriffs', or municipal police officers' retirement system for which the member either has received or is eligible to receive a refund of the member's accumulated contributions. To qualify this service, the member shall contribute to the pension trust fund the actuarial cost of granting the service in the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system, as determined by the board, based on the most recent actuarial valuation of the system minus the employer contribution provided in subsection (1)(b). This service may not be credited in more than one retirement system under Title 19.

(b)  Upon receiving the member's payment under subsection (1)(a), the division shall transfer from the member's former retirement system to the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system an amount equal to the employer contributions made during the member's service but no more than an amount equal to the normal contribution rate minus the employee contribution rate in the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system, according to the most recent actuarial valuation, based on the salaries earned by the employee as a member of the former system.

(2)  (a) A member may, at any time before retirement, make a written election with the board to qualify any full-time public service employment performed for the state or a political subdivision of the state. The member shall provide salary and employment documentation certified by the member's public employer. The board shall grant service credit subject to rules adopted by the board upon contribution by the employee of the actuarial cost of granting this service in the game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system, as determined by the board, based on the most recent actuarial valuation of the system.

(b)  The board is the sole authority under this subsection (2) in determining what constitutes full-time public service.

(c)  This service may not be credited in more than one retirement system under Title 19."



Section 11.  Section 19-8-903, MCA, is amended to read:

"19-8-903.   Employment in United States government. (1) A member who is assigned to an agency of the United States government under Title IV, the Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970, may qualify the federal employment in the retirement system under subsection (2) of this section, provided that:

(a)  the member has accumulated at least 5 years of membership service; and

(b)  the member returns to full-time service for at least 1 year after completing employment in the United States government.

(2)  A member who is assigned to an agency of the United States government has the option to:

(a)  continue the member's payments into the pension trust fund; or

(b)  pay an amount equal to the normal employer and employee contributions plus interest within 2 years after the member's return to active state game warden peace officer status.

(3)  Compensation earned while on assignment to an agency of the United States government must be considered compensation for purposes of the retirement system and may be included in the determination of final average salary, provided that the final average salary cannot exceed 100% of the member's highest monthly compensation earned as a state game warden peace officer."



NEW SECTION. Section 12.  Instruction to code commissioner. In the Montana Code Annotated and in material enacted by the 55th legislature, unless the context requires otherwise, the code commissioner shall change the term "game wardens' retirement system" to "game wardens' and peace officers' retirement system", and whenever the term "game wardens" is used in reference to the retirement system, the code commissioner shall change the term to "peace officers".



NEW SECTION. Section 13.  Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 19, chapter 8, part 3, and the provisions of Title 19, chapter 8, part 3, apply to [section 1].



NEW SECTION. Section 14.  Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1997.

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