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Wagner joins Senate colleagues in passing bill to expand Pa.'s pension forfeiture law

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG – A bill to expand the criminal counts that would force public officials in Pennsylvania to forfeit their taxpayer-paid pension has the unanimous approval of the state Senate.

Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York County, one of the candidates seeking the Republican Party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid, debates with the other Republican candidates, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The others were Paul Mango, Laura Ellsworth, and Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The bill, passed Tuesday, heads to the House of Representatives, which passed a similar bill last year.

The Senate’s bill would require a public employee or official to lose their pension if they are convicted, plead guilty, or plead no contest to any felony crime that’s related to their employment.

Current law only requires pension forfeiture for certain crimes, but the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. John DiSanto of Dauphin County, says that allows public officials charged with a crime to plead guilty to a non-forfeiture crime in order to keep their pension.

Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, co-sponsored the bill.

“When I first got to Harrisburg in 2014, I looked at the portraits of former legislative leaders hanging in the halls of the Capitol,” Wagner stated in a news release. “Several of those leaders abused the public trust and committed egregious crimes that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. While I was one who thought the portraits should be removed all together, the compromise was to place an additional plaque to outline the crime committed.”

He added it is “really sad we would need such a law, but this proposal would add protections for taxpayers and put those on notice who abuse the public trust that it will not be rewarded with pension benefits.”