January 18, 2021
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HB 249

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to Special Risk Class retirement benefits;
3amending s. 121.091, F.S.; prohibiting certain members of
4the Special Risk Class from being reemployed or
5contracting with the same employing agency from which the
6member retired; extending the period of time during which
7certain Special Risk Class members may participate in the
8Florida Retirement System Deferred Retirement Option
9program; providing legislative findings with respect to
10the state's interest in protecting the public's safety and
11welfare by extending retirement benefits for certain
12officers and funding increased retirement benefits in an
13actuarially sound manner; providing a declaration of
14important state interest; providing an effective date.
16     WHEREAS, one of the most fundamental mechanisms for
17ensuring the safety and welfare of the public is through the
18state's law enforcement agencies and correctional institutions,
20     WHEREAS, law enforcement agencies and correctional
21institutions throughout this state and the nation are
22experiencing great difficulty in recruiting and retaining well-
23qualified law enforcement and correctional officers, and
24     WHEREAS, this need is projected to become more critical in
25the future, and
26     WHEREAS, the most critical need is to recruit and retain
27line officers who have daily and direct contact with the
28criminal element, and
29     WHEREAS, because such work is physically demanding and
30arduous and often requires extraordinary agility and mental
31acuity that can diminish with age, persons employed in these
32positions are classified as special risk and able to retire at
33an earlier age, and
34     WHEREAS, one mechanism for retaining qualified officers is
35to extend the amount of time that such officers can remain in
36the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) if such officers
37can demonstrate that they retain the necessary physical and
38mental capacity to continue to competently perform their job
39duties, NOW, THEREFORE,
41Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
43     Section 1.  Paragraph (f) is added to subsection (9) of
44section 121.091, Florida Statutes, and paragraphs (a) and (b) of
45subsection (13) of that section are amended, to read:
46     121.091  Benefits payable under the system.--Benefits may
47not be paid under this section unless the member has terminated
48employment as provided in s. 121.021(39)(a) or begun
49participation in the Deferred Retirement Option Program as
50provided in subsection (13), and a proper application has been
51filed in the manner prescribed by the department. The department
52may cancel an application for retirement benefits when the
53member or beneficiary fails to timely provide the information
54and documents required by this chapter and the department's
55rules. The department shall adopt rules establishing procedures
56for application for retirement benefits and for the cancellation
57of such application when the required information or documents
58are not received.
60     (f)  Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, a
61member of the Special Risk Class who is employed as a law
62enforcement officer, correctional officer, or community-based
63correctional probation officer, as described in s. 121.0515(2),
64who has a rank or the equivalent rank of captain or below, and
65who participated in DROP for up to 36 calendar months beyond the
6660-month period, at the conclusion of his or her participation
67in DROP, may not be employed, reemployed, or retained in a
68contractual capacity by the same employing agency from which the
69member retired; however, the member may be retained by the
70employing agency as a part-time or auxiliary law enforcement
71officer, as those terms are defined in s. 943.10, if the member
72is serving on a voluntary basis and receives no more than $1 per
73calendar year in remuneration for services rendered directly for
74the employing agency. Any person who is reemployed or retained
75in a contractual capacity in violation of this paragraph shall
76void his or her application for retirement benefits. Any person
77who violates this paragraph and any employing agency that
78knowingly employs or contracts with such person in violation of
79this paragraph is jointly and severally liable for reimbursement
80to the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund for any retirement
81benefits improperly paid during the reemployment or contractual
82period. This paragraph does not apply to a retiree who is
83elected to an office or appointed to an office by the Governor
84or by the Governor and Cabinet.
85     (13)  DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION PROGRAM.--In general, and
86subject to this section, the Deferred Retirement Option Program,
87hereinafter referred to as DROP, is a program under which an
88eligible member of the Florida Retirement System may elect to
89participate, deferring receipt of retirement benefits while
90continuing employment with his or her Florida Retirement System
91employer. The deferred monthly benefits shall accrue in the
92Florida Retirement System on behalf of the participant, plus
93interest compounded monthly, for the specified period of the
94DROP participation, as provided in paragraph (c). Upon
95termination of employment, the participant shall receive the
96total DROP benefits and begin to receive the previously
97determined normal retirement benefits. Participation in the DROP
98does not guarantee employment for the specified period of DROP.
99Participation in DROP by an eligible member beyond the initial
10060-month period as authorized in this subsection shall be on an
101annual contractual basis for all participants.
102     (a)  Eligibility of member to participate in DROP.--All
103active Florida Retirement System members in a regularly
104established position, and all active members of the Teachers'
105Retirement System established in chapter 238 or the State and
106County Officers' and Employees' Retirement System established in
107chapter 122, which are consolidated within the Florida
108Retirement System under s. 121.011, are eligible to elect
109participation in DROP if:
110     1.  The member is not a renewed member under s. 121.122 or
111a member of the State Community College System Optional
112Retirement Program under s. 121.051, the Senior Management
113Service Optional Annuity Program under s. 121.055, or the
114optional retirement program for the State University System
115under s. 121.35.
116     2.  Except as provided in subparagraph 6., election to
117participate is made within 12 months immediately following the
118date on which the member first reaches normal retirement date,
119or, for a member who reaches normal retirement date based on
120service before he or she reaches age 62, or age 55 for Special
121Risk Class members, election to participate may be deferred to
122the 12 months immediately following the date the member attains
123age 57, or age 52 for Special Risk Class members. A member who
124delays DROP participation during the 12-month period immediately
125following his or her maximum DROP deferral date, except as
126provided in subparagraph 6., loses a month of DROP participation
127for each month delayed. A member who fails to make an election
128within the 12-month limitation period forfeits all rights to
129participate in DROP. The member shall advise his or her employer
130and the division in writing of the date DROP begins. The
131beginning date may be subsequent to the 12-month election period
132but must be within the original 60-month participation period
133provided in subparagraph (b)1. When establishing eligibility of
134the member to participate in DROP, the member may elect to
135include or exclude any optional service credit purchased by the
136member from the total service used to establish the normal
137retirement date. A member who has dual normal retirement dates
138is eligible to elect to participate in DROP after attaining
139normal retirement date in either class.
140     3.  The employer of a member electing to participate in
141DROP, or employers if dually employed, shall acknowledge in
142writing to the division the date the member's participation in
143DROP begins and the date the member's employment and DROP
144participation will terminate.
145     4.  Simultaneous employment of a participant by additional
146Florida Retirement System employers subsequent to the
147commencement of participation in DROP is permissible if such
148employers acknowledge in writing a DROP termination date no
149later than the participant's existing termination date or the
150maximum participation period provided in paragraph (b)
151subparagraph (b)1.
152     5.  A DROP participant may change employers while
153participating in DROP, subject to the following:
154     a.  A change of employment must take place without a break
155in service so that the member receives salary for each month of
156continuous DROP participation. If a member receives no salary
157during a month, DROP participation shall cease unless the
158employer verifies a continuation of the employment relationship
159for such participant pursuant to s. 121.021(39)(b).
160     b.  Such participant and new employer shall notify the
161division of the identity of the new employer on forms required
162by the division.
163     c.  The new employer shall acknowledge, in writing, the
164participant's DROP termination date, which may be extended but
165not beyond the maximum participation period provided in
166paragraph (b) subparagraph (b)1., shall acknowledge liability
167for any additional retirement contributions and interest
168required if the participant fails to timely terminate
169employment, and is subject to the adjustment required in sub-
170subparagraph (c)5.d.
171     6.  Effective July 1, 2001, for instructional personnel as
172defined in s. 1012.01(2), election to participate in DROP may be
173made at any time following the date on which the member first
174reaches normal retirement date. The member shall advise his or
175her employer and the division in writing of the date on which
176DROP begins. When establishing eligibility of the member to
177participate in DROP for the 60-month participation period
178provided in subparagraph (b)1., the member may elect to include
179or exclude any optional service credit purchased by the member
180from the total service used to establish the normal retirement
181date. A member who has dual normal retirement dates is eligible
182to elect to participate in either class.
183     (b)  Participation in DROP.--
184     1.  An eligible member may elect to participate in DROP for
185a period not to exceed a maximum of 60 calendar months.
186     a.  However, Members who are instructional personnel
187employed by the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and
188authorized by the Board of Trustees of the Florida School for
189the Deaf and the Blind, who are instructional personnel as
190defined in s. 1012.01(2)(a)-(d) in grades K-12 and authorized by
191the district school superintendent, or who are instructional
192personnel as defined in s. 1012.01(2)(a) employed by a
193developmental research school and authorized by the school's
194director, or if the school has no director, by the school's
195principal, may participate in DROP for up to 36 calendar months
196beyond the 60-month period.
197     b.  Special Risk Class members who are employed as law
198enforcement officers, correctional officers, or community-based
199correctional probation officers, as described in s. 121.0515(2),
200with a rank or the equivalent rank of captain or below, may
201participate in DROP for up to 36 calendar months beyond the 60-
202month period.
203     2.  Upon deciding to participate in DROP, the member shall
204submit, on forms required by the division:
205     a.  A written election to participate in DROP;
206     b.  Selection of DROP participation and termination dates
207that satisfy the limitations stated in paragraph (a) and
208subparagraph 1. The termination date must be in a binding letter
209of resignation to the employer establishing a deferred
210termination date. The member may change the termination date
211within the limitations of subparagraph 1., but only with the
212written approval of the employer;
213     c.  A properly completed DROP application for service
214retirement as provided in this section; and
215     d.  Any other information required by the division.
216     3.  The DROP participant is a retiree under the Florida
217Retirement System for all purposes, except for paragraph (5)(f)
218and subsection (9) and ss. 112.3173, 112.363, 121.053, and
219121.122. DROP participation is final and may not be canceled by
220the participant after the first payment is credited during the
221DROP participation period. However, participation in DROP does
222not alter the participant's employment status, and the member is
223not deemed retired from employment until his or her deferred
224resignation is effective and termination occurs as defined in s.
226     4.  Elected officers are eligible to participate in DROP
227subject to the following:
228     a.  An elected officer who reaches normal retirement date
229during a term of office may defer the election to participate
230until the next succeeding term in that office. An elected
231officer who exercises this option may participate in DROP for up
232to 60 calendar months or no longer than the succeeding term of
233office, whichever is less.
234     b.  An elected or a nonelected participant may run for a
235term of office while participating in DROP and, if elected,
236extend the DROP termination date accordingly; however, if such
237additional term of office exceeds the 60-month limitation
238established in subparagraph 1., and the officer does not resign
239from office within such 60-month limitation, the retirement and
240the participant's DROP is null and void as provided in sub-
241subparagraph (c)5.d.
242     c.  An elected officer who is dually employed and elects to
243participate in DROP must terminate all employment relationships
244as provided in s. 121.021(39) for the nonelected position within
245the original 60-month period or maximum participation period as
246provided in subparagraph 1. For DROP participation ending:
247     (I)  Before July 1, 2010, the officer may continue
248employment as an elected officer as provided in s. 121.053. The
249elected officer shall be enrolled as a renewed member in the
250Elected Officers' Class or the Regular Class, as provided in ss.
251121.053 and 121.122, on the first day of the month after
252termination of employment in the nonelected position and
253termination of DROP. Distribution of the DROP benefits shall be
254made as provided in paragraph (c).
255     (II)  On or after July 1, 2010, the officer may continue
256employment as an elected officer but must defer termination as
257provided in s. 121.053.
258     Section 2.  The Legislature finds and declares that
259ensuring the availability of experienced law enforcement,
260correctional, and community-based correctional probation
261officers to protect the safety and welfare of the public is an
262important state interest. Providing such officers who are
263members of the Florida Retirement System with an opportunity to
264extend their employment as law enforcement officers,
265correctional officers, or community-based correctional probation
266officers by increasing the maximum participation period in the
267Deferred Retirement Option Program will help serve that
268interest. Funding for such retirement benefits must be made,
269administered, and funded in an actuarially sound manner as
270required by s. 14, Art. X of the State Constitution and part VII
271of chapter 112, Florida Statutes. Therefore, the Legislature
272determines and declares that the amendment of s. 121.091,
273Florida Statutes, by this act fulfills an important state
275     Section 3.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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