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LEGAL LOOPHOLE

Olman urges panel to end ‘double dip’
Passage unlikely this year, but action expected in ’03

By JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) yesterday urged a House committee to approve a bill patching a legal loophole that allows some elected officials to simultaneously draw salaries and pensions for the same job.

"The public just doesn’t understand how an individual can earn a pension for $86,000 while earning a salary of nearly $110,000 a year for the same job," he told the House Retirement and Aging Committee.

He noted 18 officeholders this year filed the necessary paperwork 90 days before the general election to indicate they intended to take advantage of the loophole to briefly "retire" before being sworn in for new terms, triggering their pensions.

Sixteen were unopposed in the election. The two with opposition lost their races.

Sandy Isenberg, president of the Lucas County commissioners, was defeated by Toledo Clerk of Municipal Courts Maggie Thurber, despite the fact that Mrs. Isenberg changed her mind following a public outcry. The other defeated candidate was a 28-year Meigs County judge.

Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger, 50, was among the 16 unopposed officials to make the move, which will allow him to draw a pension of about $70,000 a year from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System on top of his $106,000 salary. A write-in challenge failed.

The bill is expected to go no further this session, which ends next month, but the committee’s chairman, Rep. Kirk Schuring (R., Canton), predicted it will pass next session when he is in the Senate.

"I think it has a lot of merit," he said. "I think it is something that will be given a good opportunity next session."

The loophole was created a couple of years ago to urge retired public school teachers to return to work. But when judges and other public officials began to exploit it as well in 2001, an attempt was made to exclude elected officials.

Instead, the Senate slipped in a provision letting the practice continue as long as officials filed notices of their intent 90 days before the election.

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© Copyright 2008 State Representative Lynn Olman. All rights reserved.

 

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