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Return to Work for Police Officers Passes the House with Bipartisan Support

Common Sense Legislation Continues on to the Senate

February 11, 2016

Albuquerque - Yesterday evening the State of New Mexico House of Representatives approved the passage of HB171, Return to Work (RTW) for law enforcement officers on a 38-29 vote. Bipartisan support of this legislation now includes all 33 Sheriff’s Departments in New Mexico, 39 mayors who represent 78% of the state’s population and four democrat representatives.

“This legislation has been crafted in a way that every legislator can vote for it and feel good about their decision,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry.  “Not only does it protect and even enhance pension solvency, it helps large and small communities attract police officers and sheriff deputies to keep our families safe.”

During testimony, several key points were again clarified about this legislation, including:

  • The fiscal impact statement for the legislation clearly states that it will NOT have a negative impact on pension solvency as shown by PERA’s analysis and an expert actuary study commissioned by the City of Albuquerque. In fact the actuary’s research shows that the pension solvency will improve if this legislation passes.
  • The bill is for law enforcement only, including municipal police, sheriff departments and state police.
  • There is strong support for this legislation from all over New Mexico including 20 mayors, the Sheriffs Association, State Police, the Municipal League and the business community.
  • The myth that this is legislation is only needed to address an officer shortage in Albuquerque was debunked, as law enforcement leaders from around the state testified that they need help with law enforcement shortages as well.
  • In Albuquerque:
    • All RTW officers will return to the front lines of police work, protecting neighborhoods and families throughout the city.
    • There will be a maximum of 100 of RTW officers for APD.
    • RTW officers can only return for a maximum of 5 years.
    • RTW officers will actually pay into the system even though they will receive no addition benefits.
    • At APD, there will be no promotional opportunities for RTW officers, but smaller communities and Sheriff Departments will be able to attract officers for both rank and file and leadership positions.
    • APD has a plan to get up the 1,000 officers that a recent expert study showed were needed, but that will not be accomplished in the near future without this legislation.
  • Most other states, including every surrounding state to New Mexico, allow some type of RTW or deferred retirement plan for police officers – it is sound public safety policy

“A vote for this legislation is a vote for public safety, for protecting our officers and our citizens and it is a vote to maintain or improve pension solvency,” said Mayor Berry. “I would like to thank Representative Larrañaga and Senator Ingle for their sponsorship of this important legislation and I would like to thank the New Mexican Representatives who voted to support our law enforcement.”

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Letters and supporting documentation for Return to Work can be found here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B18gr7aYdmxQVkYwR2dkaFF3eG8&usp=sharing