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'Edmonson bill' voided 

Bill with retirement provisions ruled unconstitutional

  A state district judge in Baton Rouge last week declared unconstitutional the contested portions of a bill giving State Police Col. Mike Edmonson a big annual boost in his retirement benefits. Judge Janice Clark wasted no time tossing out the so-called "Edmonson amendment" after a brief hearing in her courtroom.

  The special retirement provisions were tacked on to Senate Bill 294 by a six-member conference committee without a public hearing on the final day of the legislative session. Both the House and Senate approved what they thought was an innocuous bill that originally dealt with the "rights of law enforcement officers while under investigation." As amended, the bill violated several statutory and constitutional provisions — and added many millions to the state's already red-inked retirement system.

  Blogger Tom Aswell (www.louisianavoice.com) first exposed the ruse, and his criticisms were amplified by fellow blogger C.B. Forgotston (www.forgotston.com).

  State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, filed a taxpayer lawsuit seeking to void the retirement provisions of the law. State Treasurer John Kennedy, who was named a defendant by virtue of his position on the State Police Retirement System Board, agreed with Claitor's claims.

  "I don't think I've seen a bill that was as unconstitutional as this one," Kennedy said after the judge's ruling on Sept. 16. "It was also wrong. It was unfair. It gave special treatment to people who have the political clout to get a bill passed, and that's not fair."

  Edmonson said afterward that he agreed with the ruling and that he wants the State Police Retirement System to tell him exactly how much he can collect when he retires. None of the named defendants expressed any interest in appealing Clark's ruling, which should end the matter. Edmonson also said he does not intend to go back to the Legislature next year seeking a similar retirement boost.

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