1998 Regular Session
By: Representative Green (96th)
House Bill 1400
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 25-11-109, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT EMPLOYEES OF THE MERIT PROMOTION SYSTEM FOR SWORN LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS WHO HAVE 25 YEARS OF CREDITABLE SERVICE AND WHO RETIRE AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS ACT AND BEFORE JULY 1, 1998, SHALL BE CREDITED WITH ONE ADDITIONAL YEAR OF CREDITABLE SERVICE; TO PROVIDE THAT EMPLOYEES OF THE MERIT PROMOTION SYSTEM WITH AT LEAST 24 YEARS OF CREDITABLE SERVICE WHO WISH TO RETIRE AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS ACT AND BEFORE JULY 1, 1998, SHALL BE CREDITED WITH ONE ADDITIONAL YEAR OF CREDITABLE SERVICE IN ORDER TO ATTAIN THE NECESSARY 25 YEARS OF CREDITABLE SERVICE FOR RETIREMENT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE EMPLOYER SHALL CONTRIBUTE 17% OF THE COMPENSATION EARNED BY THE EMPLOYEE DURING THE 12 MONTHS PRECEDING HIS RETIREMENT FOR THE ADDITIONAL YEAR OF CREDITABLE SERVICE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT ARE SUBJECT TO AND LIMITED BY FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE LEGISLATURE DURING THE 1998 SESSION; TO AMEND SECTION 25-11-103, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY TO THE PRECEDING PROVISIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 25-11-109, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-11-109. (1) Under such rules and regulations as the board of trustees shall adopt, each person who becomes a member of this retirement system, as provided in Section 25-11-105, on or prior to July 1, 1953, or who becomes a member and contributes to the system for a minimum period of four (4) years, shall receive credit for all state service rendered before February 1, 1953. To receive such credit, such member shall file a detailed statement of all services as an employee rendered by him in the state service before February 1, 1953. For any member who joined the system after July 1, 1953, any creditable service for which the member is not required to make contributions shall not be credited to the member until the member has contributed to the system for a minimum period of at least four (4) years.
(2) In the computation of membership service or prior service under the provisions of this article, the total months of accumulative service during any fiscal year shall be calculated in accordance with the schedule as follows: ten (10) or more months of creditable service during any fiscal year shall constitute a year of creditable service; seven (7) months to nine (9) months inclusive, three-quarters (3/4) of a year of creditable service; four (4) months to six (6) months inclusive, one-half (1/2) year of creditable service; one (1) month to three (3) months inclusive, one-quarter (1/4) of a year of creditable service. In no case shall credit be allowed for any period of absence without compensation except for disability while in receipt of a disability retirement allowance, nor shall less than fifteen (15) days of service in any month, or service less than the equivalent of one-half (1/2) of the normal working load for the position and less than one-half (1/2) of the normal compensation for the position in any month, constitute a month of creditable service, nor shall more than one (1) year of service be creditable for all services rendered in any one (1) fiscal year; provided that for a school employee, substantial completion of the legal school term when and where the service was rendered shall constitute a year of service credit for both prior service and membership service. Any state or local elected official shall be deemed a full-time employee for the purpose of creditable service for prior service or membership service. However, an appointed or elected official compensated on a per diem basis only shall not be allowed creditable service for terms of office.
In the computation of any retirement allowance or any annuity or benefits provided in this article, any fractional period of service of less than one (1) year shall be taken into account and a proportionate amount of such retirement allowance, annuity or benefit shall be granted for any such fractional period of service.
In the computation of unused leave for creditable service authorized in Section 25-11-103, the following shall govern: twenty-one (21) days of unused leave shall constitute one (1) month of creditable service and in no case shall credit be allowed for any period of unused leave of less than fifteen (15) days. The number of months of unused leave shall determine the number of quarters or years of creditable service in accordance with the above schedule for membership and prior service. In order for the member to receive creditable service for the number of days of unused leave, the system must receive certification from the governing authority.
For the purpose of this subsection, for members of the system who are elected officers and who retire on or after July 1, 1987, the following shall govern:
(a) For service prior to July 1, 1984, the members shall receive credit for leave (combined personal and major medical) for service as an elected official prior to that date at the rate of thirty (30) days per year.
(b) For service on and after July 1, 1984, the member shall receive credit for personal and major medical leave beginning July 1, 1984, at the rates authorized in Sections 25-3-93 and 25-3-95, computed as a full-time employee.
(3) Subject to the above restrictions and to such other rules and regulations as the board may adopt, the board shall verify, as soon as practicable after the filing of such statements of service, the services therein claimed.
(4) Upon verification of the statement of prior service, the board shall issue a prior service certificate certifying to each member the length of prior service for which credit shall have been allowed on the basis of his statement of service. So long as membership continues, a prior service certificate shall be final and conclusive for retirement purposes as to such service, provided that any member may within five (5) years from the date of issuance or modification of such certificate request the board of trustees to modify or correct his prior service certificate. Any modification or correction authorized shall only apply prospectively.
When membership ceases, such prior service certificates shall become void. Should the employee again become a member, he shall enter the system as an employee not entitled to prior service credit except as provided in Sections 25-11-105(I), 25-11-113 and 25-11-117.
(5) Creditable service at retirement, on which the retirement allowance of a member shall be based, shall consist of the membership service rendered by him since he last became a member, and also, if he has a prior service certificate which is in full force and effect, the amount of the service certified on his prior service certificate.
(6) Anything in this article to the contrary notwithstanding, any member who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or who served in maritime service during periods of hostility in World War II, shall be entitled to creditable service for his service on active duty in the armed forces or in such maritime service, provided he entered state service after his discharge from the armed forces or entered state service after he completed such maritime service. The maximum period for such creditable service for all military service shall not exceed four (4) years unless positive proof can be furnished by such person that he was retained in the armed forces during World War II or in maritime service during World War II by causes beyond his control and without opportunity of discharge. The member shall furnish proof satisfactory to the board of trustees of certification of military service or maritime service records showing dates of entrance into active duty service and the date of discharge. From and after July 1, 1993, no creditable service shall be granted for any military service or maritime service to a member who qualifies for a retirement allowance in another public retirement system administered by the Board of Trustees of the Public Employees' Retirement System based in whole or in part on such military or maritime service. In no case shall the member receive creditable service if the member received a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States.
(7) Any actively contributing member of the Public Employees' Retirement System who has at least four (4) years of membership service credit shall be entitled to receive a maximum of five (5) years creditable service for service rendered in another state as a public employee of such other state, or a political subdivision, public education system or other governmental instrumentality thereof, or service rendered as a teacher in American overseas dependent schools conducted by the Armed Forces of the United States for children of citizens of the United States residing in areas outside the continental United States, provided that:
(a) The member shall furnish proof satisfactory to the board of trustees of certification of such services from the state, public education system, political subdivision or retirement system of the state where the services were performed or the governing entity of the American overseas dependent school where the services were performed; and
(b) The member is not receiving or will not be entitled to receive from the public retirement system of the other state or from any other retirement plan, including optional retirement plans, sponsored by the employer, a retirement allowance including such services; and
(c) The member shall pay to the retirement system on the date he or she is eligible for credit for such out-of-state service or at any time thereafter prior to date of retirement the actuarial cost as determined by the actuary for each year of out-of-state creditable service. The member may begin to purchase such service credit at such time as the total eligible additional credit, when added to the member's creditable service, will entitle the member to receive a retirement allowance within five (5) years. The provisions of this subsection are subject to the limitations of Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code and regulations promulgated thereunder.
(8) Any actively contributing member of the Public Employees' Retirement System who has at least four (4) years of membership service credit and who receives, or has received, professional leave without compensation for professional purposes directly related to the employment in state service shall receive creditable service for the period of professional leave without compensation provided:
(a) The professional leave is performed with a public institution or public agency of this state, or another state or federal agency;
(b) The employer approves the professional leave showing the reason for granting the leave and makes a determination that the professional leave will benefit the employee and employer;
(c) Such professional leave shall not exceed two (2) years during any ten-year period of state service;
(d) The employee shall serve the employer on a full-time basis for a period of time equivalent to the professional leave period granted immediately following the termination of said leave period;
(e) The actively contributing member shall pay to the retirement system the actuarial cost as determined by the actuary for each year of professional leave. The member may begin to purchase such service credit at such time as the total eligible additional credit, when added to the member's creditable service, will entitle the member to receive a retirement allowance within five (5) years. The provisions of this subsection are subject to the regulations of the Internal Revenue Code limitations;
(f) Such other rules and regulations consistent herewith as the board may adopt and in case of question, the board shall have final power to decide the questions.
Any actively contributing member participating in the School Administrator Sabbatical Program established in Section 37-9-77, shall qualify for continued participation under this subsection (8).
(9) Any member of the Public Employees' Retirement System who has at least four (4) years of credited membership service shall be entitled to receive a maximum of ten (10) years creditable service for:
(a) Any service rendered as an employee of any political subdivision of this state, or any instrumentality thereof, which does not participate in the Public Employees' Retirement System; or
(b) Any service rendered as an employee of any political subdivision of this state, or any instrumentality thereof, which participates in the Public Employees' Retirement System but did not elect retroactive coverage; or
(c) Any service rendered as an employee of any political subdivision of this state, or any instrumentality thereof, for which coverage of the employee's position was or is excluded; provided that the member pays into the retirement system the actuarial cost as determined by the actuary for each year, or portion thereof, of such service. Payment for such service may be made in increments of one-quarter (1/4) year of creditable service. After a member has made full payment to the retirement system for all or any part of such service, the member shall receive creditable service for the period of such service for which full payment has been made to the retirement system.
(10) (a) Any employee of the merit promotion system established under Section 49-4-6(5) who has twenty-five (25) years of creditable service who withdraws from service after the effective date of this act and before July 1, 1998 and receives a retirement allowance shall be credited with one (1) additional year of creditable service in the calculation of the annual retirement allowance. In addition, any employee of the merit promotion system who has at least 24 years but fewer than 25 years of creditable service who wishes to retire during the period after the effective date of this act and before July 1, 1998, shall be credited with one (1) additional year of creditable service in order to attain the necessary 25 years of creditable service for retirement.
(b) The employer shall contribute seventeen percent (17%) of the compensation earned by the employee during the twelve (12) months immediately preceding his withdrawal from service for the additional one (1) year of creditable service as allowed in subsection (a). All contributions and wage reports shall be filed with the retirement system before the employee can receive the additional creditable service in the annual retirement allowance.
(c) The employee's average compensation, as defined in Section 25-11-103, may include the compensation on which additional contributions are paid.
(d) The provisions of this section are subject to and limited by funds appropriated by the Legislature for the purposes of this section during the 1998 Regular Session.
SECTION 2. Section 25-11-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-11-103. The following words and phrases as used in Articles 1 and 3, unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, shall have the following meanings:
(a) "Accumulated contributions" shall mean the sum of all the amounts deducted from the compensation of a member and credited to his individual account in the annuity savings account, together with regular interest thereon as provided in Section 25-11-123.
(b) "Actuarial cost" shall mean the amount of funds presently required to provide future benefits as determined by the board based on applicable tables and formulas provided by the actuary.
(c) "Actuarial equivalent" shall mean a benefit of equal value to the accumulated contributions, annuity or benefit, as the case may be, when computed upon the basis of such mortality tables as shall be adopted by the board of trustees, and regular interest.
(d) "Actuarial tables" shall mean such tables of mortality and rates of interest as shall be adopted by the board in accordance with the recommendation of the actuary.
(e) "Agency" shall mean any governmental body employing persons in the state service.
(f) "Average compensation" shall mean the average of the four (4) highest years of earned compensation reported for an employee in a fiscal or calendar year period, or combination thereof which do not overlap, or the last forty-eight (48) consecutive months of earned compensation reported for an employee. The four (4) years need not be successive or joined years of service. In no case shall the average compensation so determined be in excess of One Hundred Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($125,000.00). In computing the average compensation, any amount paid in a lump sum for personal leave shall be included in the calculation to the extent that such amount does not exceed an amount which is equal to thirty (30) days of earned compensation and to the extent that it does not cause the employees' earned compensation to exceed the maximum reportable amount specified in Section 25-11-103(k); provided, however, that such thirty-day limitation shall not prevent the inclusion in the calculation of leave earned under federal regulations prior to July 1, 1976, and frozen as of that date as referred to in Section 25-3-99. Only the amount of lump sum pay for personal leave due and paid upon the death of a member attributable for up to one hundred fifty (150) days shall be used in the deceased member's average compensation calculation in determining the beneficiary's benefits. In computing the average compensation, no amounts shall be used which are in excess of the amount on which contributions were required and paid. If any member who is or has been granted any increase in annual salary or compensation of more than eight percent (8%) retires within twenty-four (24) months from the date that such increase becomes effective, then the board shall exclude that part of the increase in salary or compensation that exceeds eight percent (8%) in calculating that member's average compensation for retirement purposes. The board may enforce this provision by rule or regulation. However, increases in compensation in excess of eight percent (8%) per year granted within twenty-four (24) months of the date of retirement may be included in such calculation of average compensation if satisfactory proof is presented to the board showing that the increase in compensation was the result of an actual change in the position held or services rendered, or that such compensation increase was authorized by the State Personnel Board or was increased as a result of statutory enactment, and the employer furnishes an affidavit stating that such increase granted within the last twenty-four (24) months was not contingent on a promise or agreement of the employee to retire. Nothing in Section 25-3-31 shall affect the calculation of the average compensation of any member for the purposes of this article. The average compensation of any member who retires before July 1, 1992, shall not exceed the annual salary of the Governor. Average compensation may include the compensation on which additional contributions are paid under Section 25-11-109(10).
(g) "Beneficiary" shall mean any person entitled to receive a retirement allowance, an annuity or other benefit as provided by Articles 1 and 3. In the event of the death prior to retirement of any member whose spouse and/or children are not entitled to a retirement allowance, the lawful spouse of a member at the time of the death of such member shall be the beneficiary of such member unless the member has designated another beneficiary subsequent to the date of marriage in writing, and filed such writing in the office of the executive director of the board of trustees. No designation or change of beneficiary shall be made in any other manner.
(h) "Board" shall mean the board of trustees provided in Section 25-11-15 to administer the retirement system herein created.
(i) "Creditable service" shall mean "prior service," "retroactive service" and all lawfully credited unused leave not exceeding the accrual rates and limitations provided in Section 25-3-91 et seq., as of the date of withdrawal from service plus "membership service" for which credit is allowable as provided in Section 25-11-109. Except to limit creditable service reported to the system for the purpose of computing an employee's retirement allowance or annuity or benefits provided in this article, nothing in this paragraph shall limit or otherwise restrict the power of the governing authority of a municipality or other political subdivision of the state to adopt such vacation and sick leave policies as it deems necessary.
(j) "Child" means either a natural child of the member, a child that has been made a child of the member by applicable court action before the death of the member, or a child under the permanent care of the member at the time of the latter's death, which permanent care status shall be determined by evidence satisfactory to the board.
(k) "Earned compensation" shall mean the full amount earned by an employee for a given pay period including any maintenance furnished up to a maximum of One Hundred Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($125,000.00) per year, and proportionately for less than one (1) year of service. The value of such maintenance when not paid in money shall be fixed by the employing state agency, and, in case of doubt, by the board of trustees as defined in Section 25-11-15. In any case, earned compensation shall be limited to the regular periodic compensation paid, exclusive of litigation fees, bond fees, and other similar extraordinary non-recurring payments. In the case of fee officials, the net earnings from their office after deduction of expenses shall apply, except that in no case shall earned compensation be less than the total direct payments made by the state or governmental subdivisions to the official, and employer and employee contributions shall be paid thereon. In the case of members of the state Legislature, all remuneration or amounts paid, except mileage allowance, shall apply. The amount by which an eligible employee's salary is reduced pursuant to a salary reduction agreement authorized under Section 25-17-5 shall be included as earned compensation under this paragraph, provided this inclusion does not conflict with federal law, including federal regulations and federal administrative interpretations thereunder, pertaining to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or to Internal Revenue Code Section 125 cafeteria plans. Compensation in addition to an employee's base salary that is paid to the employee pursuant to the vacation and sick leave policies of a municipality or other political subdivision of the state that employs him which exceeds the maximums authorized by Section 25-3-91 et seq. shall be excluded from the calculation of earned compensation under this article. The maximum salary applicable for retirement purposes before July 1, 1992, shall be the salary of the Governor. Nothing in Section 25-3-31 shall affect the determination of the earned compensation of any member for the purposes of this article.
(l) "Employee" means any person legally occupying a position in the state service, and shall include the employees of the retirement system created hereunder.
(m) "Employer" shall mean the State of Mississippi or any of its departments, agencies or subdivisions from which any employee receives his compensation.
(n) "Executive director" shall mean the secretary to the board of trustees, as provided in Section 25-11-15(9), and the administrator of the Public Employees' Retirement System and all systems under the management of the board of trustees. Wherever the term "Executive Secretary of the Public Employees' Retirement System" or "executive secretary" appears in this article or in any other provision of law, it shall be construed to mean the Executive Director of the Public Employees' Retirement System.
(o) "Fiscal year" shall mean the period beginning on July 1 of any year and ending on June 30 of the next succeeding year.
(p) "Medical board" shall mean the board of physicians or any governmental or non-governmental disability determination service designated by the board of trustees that is qualified to make disability determinations as provided for in Section 25-11-119.
(q) "Member" shall mean any person included in the membership of the system as provided in Section 25-11-105.
(r) "Membership service" shall mean service as an employee rendered while a member of the retirement system.
(s) "Position" means any office or any employment in the state service, or two (2) or more of them, the duties of which call for services to be rendered by one (1) person, including positions jointly employed by federal and state agencies administering federal and state funds.
(t) "Prior service" shall mean service rendered before February 1, 1953, for which credit is allowable under Sections 25-11-105 and 25-11-109, and which shall allow prior service for any person who is now or becomes a member of the Public Employees' Retirement System and who does contribute to the system for a minimum period of four (4) years.
(u) "Regular interest" shall mean interest compounded annually at such a rate as shall be determined by the board in accordance with Section 25-11-121.
(v) "Retirement allowance" shall mean an annuity for life as provided in this article, payable each year in twelve (12) equal monthly installments beginning as of the date fixed by the board. The retirement allowance shall be calculated in accordance with Section 25-11-111. Provided, any spouse who received a spouse retirement benefit in accordance with Section 25-11-111(d) prior to March 31, 1971, and said benefits were terminated because of eligibility for a Social Security benefit, may again receive his spouse retirement benefit from and after making application with the board of trustees to reinstate such spouse retirement benefit.
(w) "Retroactive service" shall mean service rendered after February 1, 1953, for which credit is allowable under Section 25-11-105(b) and Section 25-11-105(k).
(x) "System" shall mean the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi established and described in Section 25-11-101.
(y) "State" shall mean the State of Mississippi or any political subdivision thereof or instrumentality thereof.
(z) "State service" shall mean all offices and positions of trust or employment in the employ of the state, or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof, which elect to participate as provided by Section 25-11-105 (f), including the position of elected or fee officials of the counties and their deputies and employees performing public services or any department, independent agency, board or commission thereof, and shall also include all offices and positions of trust or employment in the employ of joint state and federal agencies administering state and federal funds and service rendered by employees of the public schools. Effective July 1, 1973, all nonprofessional public school employees, such as bus drivers, janitors, maids, maintenance workers and cafeteria employees, shall have the option to become members in accordance with Section 25-11-105(b), and shall be eligible to receive credit for services prior to July 1, 1973, provided the contributions and interest are paid by the employee in accordance with said section; provided, further, that the county or municipal separate school district may pay the employer contribution and pro rate share of interest of the retroactive service from available funds. From and after July 1, 1998, retroactive service credit shall be purchased at the actuarial cost in accordance with Section 25-11-105(b).
(aa) "Withdrawal from service" shall mean complete severance of employment in the state service of any member by resignation, dismissal or discharge.
(bb) The masculine pronoun, wherever used, shall include the feminine pronoun.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.