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OLMAN, LATTA INTRODUCE BILL TO PLUG 'DOUBLE-DIPPING' LOOPHOLE

By JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The legal loophole through which some elected officials have positioned themselves to simultaneously draw pensions and salaries for the same jobs would be plugged under a bill introduced yesterday.

The measure, sponsored by Reps. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) and Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), would eliminate a provision allowing just re-elected officials, members of the Public Employees Retirement System, to briefly "retire" at the end of one term before being sworn in to begin another.

Currently, the official must simply notify the county board of elections of that intent at least 90 days before the general election.

Mr. Olman doesn’t hold out much hope for passage this session, which has only a handful of scheduled legislative days left. This General Assembly also is the same one that created the 90-day notice provision in the first place as a compromise to eliminating "double-dipping" altogether.

He said he considered an alternate version to move up the notification period to precede the February candidate-filing deadline, decreasing the chances that incumbents could conceal their intentions to double-dip until it was too late for challengers to circulate nominating petitions.

He dropped that idea after being assured by the Legislative Services Commission that it would not be unconstitutional to differentiate between elected and non-elected members of the same pension system.

At least 11 officials statewide, 10 of them judges, filed 90-day notices of intent this year, including Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger, Ottawa County Common Pleas Judge Paul Moon, and Fulton County Probate and Juvenile Judge Michael Bumb. Lucas County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg had filed notice but changed her mind following a public backlash.

"I never have in the past or present, nor would I in the future ever consider the double-dip," said Mr. Olman, a former Maumee city councilman.

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