House revives officeholder-pension bill

April 04, 1991|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- A day after killing a bill that would have allowed retirees elected to county or municipal offices across the state to collect their pensions on top of their salaries, the House yesterday reversed itself.

The 86-36 vote came after Delegate James M. Harkins, R-Harford, said Tuesday's defeat of the bill would mean that Harford County's newly elected sheriff, Democrat Robert Comes, would not be able to collect his $12,500-a-year pension from 33 years' law enforcement work on top of his $52,000-a-year salary. Mr. Harkins called that "a fundamental wrong."

The biennial pension bill got into trouble this session because it also would permit Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker, a Republican, to collect a $40,000 annual pension for his 36 years' service in the public school system as well as his $80,000-a-year salary.

The Senate tried to exempt Mr. Ecker with language barring county executives from the double-dip, but the House stripped off the amendment. But then the House unexpectedly defeated the bill, 67-45, four shy of the 71 needed for passage.

The revived measure now goes back to the Senate, where the Ecker amendment is expected to be added again, which would send the issue to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve.

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