Pa. House passes ‘triple dipping’ bill

The state House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would end so-called “triple dipping” by retired state workers.

House Bill 2346, authored by Rep. Adam Harris (R-Snyder/Mifflin/Juniata), would prevent public retirees from collecting unemployment compensation when they leave short-term positions.

Pennsylvania currently has a formal state hiring policy that says if a state annuitant is re-employed, his or her service cannot exceed 95 days.  A public retiree who exceeds 95 days of work in the state system jeopardizes his or her state pension.

The law currently does not prohibit someone from collecting unemployment if they leave a job to continue retirement or annuity benefits.

“My legislation will prevent public retirees, who took state jobs with the knowledge their term of employment would be limited to 95 days, from collecting unemployment compensation when they leave these short-term positions,” Harris said Wednesday.  “Unemployment compensation was meant to assist people who have involuntary lapses in employment.  This scenario does not fall into what I would consider the definition of ‘unemployment,' and I believe the majority of Pennsylvanians would agree.”

Harris said in 2011, 239 state annuitants received unemployment compensation benefits after temporarily re-employing and collected a total of more than $1.1 million in benefits.

His legislation says any retiree who voluntarily leaves employment to maintain eligibility for pension benefits is ineligible to collect unemployment. The law would also apply to retirees who are terminated by the employer so the person can maintain their pension.

The measure will now go before the Senate for debate and consideration.

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