Gov. Wolf Signs Pension Forfeiture Reform into Law

Governor Tom Wolf today continued his work to restore trust in Pennsylvania’s government by signing into law important updates to the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act that will help stop public employees convicted of job-related felonies from receiving a public pension.

“I commend the General Assembly for taking this first step towards greater ethics reform in state government. I look forward to continued progress in this area. It’s frustrating when we know someone has committed a serious crime, but we still have to pay them a pension using taxpayer money. That’s just not fair to honest, hardworking Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf. “Closing this loophole is an important step in ensuring public officials and employees who betray the people of Pennsylvania are held accountable.”

Act 1 of 2019, formerly SB 113, expands the list of crimes that require pension forfeiture to include all felonies, which will help stop convicted employees from dodging pension forfeiture by pleading guilty or no contest to felonies that were previously not listed.

The new law also requires the courts to notify benefits administrators to immediately halt pension payments upon a guilty or no contest plea. This rule helps ensure no pension payments are made to an ineligible recipient.

“With the enactment of SB 113 as Act 1 of 2019, we are putting elected officials and public employees on notice that they will no longer be able to abuse their power and walk away with a lifetime taxpayer-funded pension,” said Sen. John DiSanto, the prime sponsor of SB 113. “This legislation ensures felons face a financial penalty for violating the public trust and helps restore people’s faith in our government institutions. I thank the governor and my colleagues in the general assembly for their support of this commonsense legislation and look forward to advancing further government reforms on behalf of the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

“As elected officials, it’s our job to work in the public interest, not our own,” said Treasurer Joe Torsella. “When public servants abuse the trust the public has placed in them, they don’t deserve taxpayer-funded retirements. I want to thank Governor Wolf for his leadership on this issue, and the General Assembly for their work in passing this important step toward fighting corruption.”

“I want to thank former State Rep. Scott Petri who first drafted this legislation. His foresight and research will ensure corrupt public officials don’t receive their taxpayer-funded pensions,” said Rep. Frank Farry. “Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has a long history of public corruption. I was pleased to be able to continue Rep. Petri’s efforts to make sure our laws do not allow offenders to evade the consequences of their crimes.”

Gov. Wolf has made government reform a top priority since taking office. He has implemented a gift ban for employees under his jurisdiction, increased transparency by requiring cabinet secretaries to post their expenses online each month, and strengthened restrictions for lobbyists and special interests.