Bill Summary for H 944 (2021)

Summary date: 

May 12 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 944 (Public) Filed Tuesday, May 11, 2021
AN ACT CREATING A SPECIAL SEPARATION ALLOWANCE FOR STATE AND LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS AND RESCUE SQUAD WORKERS AND ESTABLISHING A TRUST FUND WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE TREASURER TO COVER THE COST OF THESE SEPARATION ALLOWANCES.
Intro. by Saine, Clampitt, C. Smith, Setzer.

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Bill summary

Enacts Article 12I to GS Chapter 143 as follows. 

New GS 143-166.90 provides for equal monthly installments of an annual separation allowance for qualified State firefighter or rescue squad workers of 0.85% of the annual equivalent of the base rate of compensation most recently applicable for each year of creditable service, as defined, beginning in the month in which the firefighter or rescue squad worker retires on a basic service retirement under the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS). Defines firefighter and rescue squad worker, as, among other things, a full-time paid employee of any State entity. Sets qualifications to include (1) completing 30 or more years of creditable service or attaining 60 years of age and completing 25 or more years of creditable service; (2) having not attained the age of 62; and (3) having completed at least five years of continuous service, rendered on, or after July 1, 2021, as a firefighter or rescue squad worker immediately preceding a service retirement, with exception for certain breaks for disability. Ceases payment upon death, the last day of the month in which the firefighter or rescue squad worker attains 62 years, or the first day of reemployment by and State entity, unless the position is exempt from the Human Resources Act in any agency other than the one from which the individual retired. Specifies that this benefit does not affect other government retirement benefits to which the individual is entitled. Exempts the benefit from any legislatively authorized salary or retirement allowance increases. Directs TSERS to determine employee eligibility for the benefit.

New GS 143-166.92 similarly provides for equal monthly installments of an annual separation allowance for qualified local firefighter or rescue squad workers of 0.85% of the annual equivalent of the base rate of compensation most recently applicable for each year of creditable service, as defined, beginning in the month in which the firefighter or rescue squad worker retires on a basic service retirement under the Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System (LGERS) or a locally sponsored retirement plan. Defines firefighter and rescue squad worker, as, among other things, a full-time paid employee of any employer that participates in LGERS or an equivalent locally sponsored retirement plan that maintains a fire department certified by the Department of Insurance or a County Fire Marshal's Office, or a rescue squad certified by the Department of Insurance or the Department of Health and Human Services, as appropriate. Establishes qualifications that mirror those established for the benefit for State firefighters and rescue squad workers. Ceases payment upon death, the last day of the month in which the firefighter or rescue squad worker attains 62 years, or the first day of reemployment by a local government employer in any capacity. Authorizes a local government employer to employ retired firefighters and rescue squad workers in a public safety position in a capacity not requiring participation in LGERS or an equivalent locally sponsored retirement plan, and provides for benefit payments to continue. Exempts the benefit from any legislatively authorized salary or retirement allowance increases. Directs LGERS to determine employee eligibility for the benefit.

Applies to firefighters and rescue squad workers retiring on or after July 1, 2026, with at least five years of continuous service that was rendered on or after July 1, 2021.

Enacts GS 143-166.94, establishing the Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Separation Allowance Trust Fund in the Department of State Treasurer, consisting of legislative appropriations and interest and income earned thereupon. Restricts use of funds in the Fund to paying the separation allowances authorized in new GS 143-166.90 and GS 143-166.92 and requires administration to ensure sufficiency for that purpose. Directs the Department of State Treasurer to annually report on the finances of the Fund to the specified NCGA committee.

Appropriates $143 million from the General Fund to the Department of State Treasurer for 2021-22 to be allocated to the Fund.

Effective July 1, 2021, unless otherwise provided. 

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