News Alert: Legislative audit report suggests pension reform package unconstitutional
A package of proposed reforms to the state's debt-ridden pension system faces challenges to its constitutionality if enacted by the Legislature. That's according to the opinion of outside legal counsel retained by the state Legislative Auditor to review the pension reform bills currently winding their way through the session. The report states that several clauses within the four major pieces of legislation, backed by the Jindal administration, could be alleged to violate both the state and federal constitutions and would likely result in lawsuits brought in state court. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera tells Daily Report he requested the report because his actuarial staff has to prepare actuarial notes to accompany the bills before they can be heard by House and Senate committees. “We wanted an independent analysis of what legal hurdles we have so the actuaries can determine the potential cost of the legal issues,” Purpera says of the report, prepared by Dallas-based Strasburger and Price law firm. Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, who is shepherding the administration's bills through the session, has not seen the report but says it is highly unusual to have a report raising the possibility of legal challenges this early in the process. “Sometimes things don't end up the way they start out. That's usually what happens in the legislative process ... So I don't know why they would ask for an opinion at the beginning of the legislative process,” he says, adding that he does not expect the report to change the way the bills are handled this session. Click here to download a PDF of the complete report. For a response from Gov. Bobby Jindal's communications director, click here.—Stephanie Riegel
Editor's note: This story has been changed since its original publication.
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