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Legislature approves pension forfeiture measure

ALBANY – The state Legislature Monday gave the second and final passage of a measure permitting the forfeiture of pensions of top state and local government officials who are convicted of felonies related to their duties as public officers.

Voters statewide this fall will be given the final say whether the New York constitution should be amended to permit courts to reduce or revoke pensions of statewide officials, state lawmakers, judges, state agency heads and top local government officials.

The measure was given the first of two required passages last year following the corruption convictions of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. According to a legislative memo accompanying the bill, the measure is intended to end the string of high-profile public corruption cases in which officials have been convicted of bribes, theft of public funds and other crimes and yet have been able to “still feel secure” that monthly pension checks will still flow for the rest of their lives.

The Senate and Assembly on Monday also agreed on a change in internal rules requiring lawmakers to get approval from a legislative ethics panel if earning more than $5,000 annually in outside income. The measure does not change state law and does not, for instance, require disclosure of the clients of a lawmaker with a legal practice on the side.

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