HJR 34: Joint Subcommittee to Study the Virginia Retirement System and
Benefits for Public Safety Officials Injured in the Line of Duty
September 8, 2004
The focus of the
joint sub-committees second meeting was the Virginia Law Officers
Retirement System (VaLORS). During the past several General Assembly sessions
many bills have been introduced that would have expanded the membership
An official from
VRS provided a general overview of VaLORS. Currently, there are 9,755
active members in VaLORS and an additional 1,000 retired members. Members
of VaLORS can retire with an actuarially reduced retirement benefit at
age 50 with five years of service and can retire with an unreduced retirement
benefit at age 50 with 25 years of service or age 60 with five years of
service. Employer contribution rates for retirement benefits of VaLORS
members as a percent of annual payroll are 16.99 percent. VaLORS currently
has an unfunded liability of $396 million.
An attorney with
Kaufman & Canoles discussed the membership of VaLORS in more detail.
There is no current objective standard for determining membership in VaLORS.
In short, certain groups of employees have been approved for membership
and, while these employees perform hazardous duties, there is no current
objective standard that provides a description of the required duties
or job functions for membership in VaLORS.
The attorney indicated
that some of the benefits of an objective standard for membership in VaLORS
would include (i) minimizing employee confusion in regard to who is eligible
for membership, (ii) providing concrete justification for enhanced benefits,
and (iii) eliminating the need for continued involvement of the General
Assembly in determining membership. One disadvantage of using an objective
standard for membership is that such a standard limits the ability of
the General Assembly to exercise control over future VaLORS membership
The attorney concluded
his presentation by recommending elements of an objective standard that
could be used for purposes of determining VaLORS membership: (i) sworn
law-enforcement officers with the power of arrest; (ii) positions where
primary responsibilities involve hazardous duties, possibly defined in
relation to those of the state police; and (iii) positions where the aging
process interferes with the individuals ability to perform the physical
functions of the position.
The next meeting
of the joint subcommittee will be held on Tuesday, October 19th, at 1:00
p.m. in House Room D of the General Assembly building. At this meeting,
the joint subcommittee will receive comment from the public in regard
to VaLORS membership. Individuals wishing to speak at the public hearing
should call Mark Vucci or David Rosenberg at the Division of Legislative
Services, (804) 786-3591, to sign up or e-mail MVucci@leg.state.va.us.
It is requested that one representative of each interested group address
the subcommittee with brief comments.
The Hon. Lacey E. Putney
Division of Legislative Services
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2004
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