Bill Summary for S 886 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

Jun 24 2016

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
Senate Bill 886 (Public) Filed Thursday, May 19, 2016
AN ACT TO HONOR CAPTAIN BRADLEY LONG AND ALL FUTURE FIREFIGHTERS AND RESCUE SQUAD WORKERS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY BY AMENDING THE NC FIREFIGHTERS' AND RESCUE SQUAD WORKERS' PENSION FUND TO PROVIDE A SURVIVORSHIP BENEFIT FOR MEMBERS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY; TO CONSOLIDATE PUBLIC RECORDS LAWS RELATING TO RETIREMENT; AND TO MAKE OTHER RETIREMENT AND ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES.
Intro. by Wells, Apodaca.

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Bill summary

Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition. Amends GS 58-86-2, adding and defining the term killed in the line of duty to the definitions section for use in the NC Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Pension Fund (Fund). Enacts GS 58-86-55(d1) to establish provisions and protocols for the paying of benefits for when a member is killed in the line of duty, depending on if the member had already begun receiving a monthly pension fund benefit and the availability and number of the beneficiaries. Specifies payment amounts and duration for those payments according to the deceased's age and other statistics. Adds language specifying that a beneficiary of someone who has been killed in the line of duty does not have to make monthly payments of $10 as otherwise required by law.

Amends GS 58-86-60, concerning payments in lump sums from the Fund for those that have died, adding language that clarifies that for those that have died, but were not killed in the line of duty, whether or not they had begun to receive a monthly pension, payment must go first to the persons designated by the member; if no beneficiary has been chosen, then to the surviving spouse; if not to the spouse then to the deceased member's legal representative. Deletes language which previously directed payment to be made to the surviving spouse, then to surviving children, then to any heirs as can be determined. Effective July 1, 2018, applying to benefits paid when a member is killed in the line of duty on or after that date.

Provides a statement that the General Assembly finds that the interests of clarity require statutory language to provide guidance to the Retirement Systems Divisions in determining and maintaining consistency as to what information is to be made available about the retirement accounts of State and local employees after the February 5, 2008, Attorney General’s advisory opinion entitled “Advisory Opinion: Confidentiality of Retirement Benefit Information; Session Law 2007-508.”

Enacts GS 135-6.1, concerning member retirement record files held by the Retirement System for Teachers and State Employees, to establish that member retirement files are not subject to inspection and examination as authorized by GS 132-6 (emergency response plans excluded from definition of public records) except as provided in GS 135-6(p); GS 128-28(q); and subsections (c), (d), and (e) of the statute.

Provides that the following information regarding members and individuals in receipt of a recurring monthly benefit, if held by the Retirement System, is public and subject to subsection (d) of the section: (1) name; (2) age; (3) date of membership in the applicable retirement system, first service earned date, date of first enrollment, date of first employment, and date of retirement; (4) the terms of any contract by which the member is employed whether written or oral, past and current, to the extent that the Retirement System has the written contract or a record of the oral contract in its possession; (5) current or most recently held position or title; (6) compensation and other relevant remuneration history and benefits paid; (7) date, general description, and type of each change and the corresponding employing agency; (8) the office or station to which the member is currently assigned, if any; (9) the record of benefit payments made by one of the Retirement Systems or Disability Benefits Programs administered by the Department of State Treasurer to a member or to the survivor, beneficiary, or alternate payee of a member; and (10) purchases of educational leave. 

Requires every person having custody of the retirement file information outlined in subsection (b) of the statute to permit the information to be inspected and examined and copies thereof made by any person during regular business hours, subject only to rules and policies for the safekeeping of member retirement files adopted by the Board of Trustees. Provides that any person who is denied access to any retirement file for the purpose of inspecting, examining, or copying the file has a right to compel compliance with the provisions of this statute by application to a court of competent jurisdiction for a writ of mandamus or other appropriate relief.

Allows the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer to disclose the name and mailing address of former State employees, former public school employees, or former community college employees to domiciled, nonprofit organizations representing 10,000 or more retired State government, local government, or public school employees.

Establishes that all information other than the information listed in subsection (c) of the statute contained in a retirement file is confidential and not open for inspection and examination except to three specified persons as follows. (1) The member, or the member’s authorized agent, may examine his or her own retirement file, except for any information concerning a medical disability, mental or physical, that a prudent physician would not divulge to a patient, providing that a member’s medical record may be disclosed to a licensed physician in writing by the member. (2) A member of the General Assembly who may inspect and examine records under the authority of GS 120-19. (3) A party by authority of a proper court order may inspect and examine a particular confidential portion of a member’s retirement file.

Establishes that any public official or employee who knowingly and willfully permits any person to have access to or custody or possession of any portion of a retirement file designated as confidential by the statute, unless the person is one specifically authorized by this statute to have access thereto for inspection and examination, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and upon conviction must only be fined in the discretion of the court, not to exceed $500.

Establishes that any person not specifically authorized by the statute to have access to a retirement file designated as confidential by the statute who knowingly and willfully examines, removes, or copies any portion of a confidential retirement file is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and upon conviction is to be fined in the discretion of the court but not to exceed $500.

Enacts GS 128-33.1, concerning public records held by the Retirement System for Counties, Cities and Towns, to establish that member retirement files are not subject to inspection and examination as authorized by GS 132-6 (emergency response plans excluded from definition of public records) except as provided in GS 135-6(p); GS 128-28(q); and subsections (c), (d), and (e) of the statute. Enacts identical subsections (a) through (h) as enacted in GS 135-6.1.

Amends GS 126-22, concerning personnel files not subject to inspection under GS 132-6, by amending the definition of personnel file to remove any employment-related or personal information gathered by the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer from the definition. Amends subsection (c) to remove personnel files maintained by the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer from the exception to the law that personnel files of former State employees who have been separated for 10 or more years may be open to inspection and examination. Instead, provides that retirement files maintained by the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer are to be made public pursuant to GS 128-33.1 and GS 135-6.1, as enacted by this act. Eliminates subsection (d), providing that, notwithstanding any provision of the statute to the contrary, the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer may disclose the name and mailing address of former State employees to domiciled, nonprofit organizations representing 10,000 or more retired State government, local government, or public school employees.

Repeals GS 115C-321(b1), which provided that, notwithstanding any provision of the statute to the contrary, the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer may disclose the name and mailing address of former public school employees to domiciled, nonprofit organizations representing 10,000 or more retired State government, local government, or public school employees.

Repeals GS 115D-29(c), which provided that, notwithstanding any provision of the statute to the contrary, the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer may disclose the name and mailing address of former community college employees to domiciled, nonprofit organizations representing 2,000 or more active or retired State government, local government, or public school employees.

Repeals GS 153A-98(c3), which provided that, notwithstanding any provision of the statute to the contrary, the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer may disclose the name and mailing address of former local governmental employees to domiciled, nonprofit organizations representing 2,000 or more active or retired State government, local government, or public school employees.

Repeals GS 160A-168(c3), which provided that, notwithstanding any provision of the statute to the contrary, the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer may disclose the name and mailing address of former local governmental employees to domiciled, nonprofit organizations representing 2,000 or more active or retired State government, local government, or public school employees.

Amends GS 135-10.1 of the Retirement System for Teachers and State Employees to provide that, if a member fails to respond within 120 days after preliminary option figures and the Form 6-E or Form 7-E are transmitted to a member (was, mailed), or if a member fails to respond within 120 days after the effective date of retirement, whichever is later, the Form 6 and the Form 7 are null and void, the retirement system is not liable for any benefits due on account of the voided application, and a new application must be filed establishing a subsequent effective date of retirement.

Amends GS 128-32.1, concerning failure to respond under the Retirement System for Counties, Cities and Towns, by making the same change as that made to GS 135-10.1, as amended by this act.

Amends GS 147-79(a) to authorize letters of credit issued by a Federal Home Loan Bank to be used as an acceptable means for securing state funds deposited by the Treasurer in an official depository.

Directs the Board of Trustees of the Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System to develop a State Contribution Rate Stabilization Policy for the NC Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Pension Fund and to report to the Office of State Budget and Management and the Fiscal Research Division on or before March 1, 2017.

Provides for severability if any provision of the act is held invalid.

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