Bill to tighten up double dip legislation dies in Senate committee

Legislation designed to tighten up rules governing the so-called double dip law died Friday evening in the Senate Government Affairs Committee.

The bill was passed two years ago in an effort to help school districts convince experienced teachers not to retire. It allowed those teachers and any other public workers in Nevada in positions designated as being in "critical shortage" to continue working, but begin collecting their pension at the same time.

School districts and the university system have used the legislation in numerous specific cases to keep math, special education and other teachers on the job. But the law became controversial when Gov. Kenny Guinn declared a critical shortage for Public Safety Director Dick Kirkland's position and several other posts in his department. That enabled Kirkland to add a pension of more than $70,000 a year to his $101,000 salary. Guinn has maintained his action wasn't a special deal for Kirkland. However, he cut off the practice after that one meeting and hasn't approved any more state positions as critical.

Opponents said the law was never designed to boost the salaries of government administrators and introduced AB450 this session to tighten up the rules and prohibit administrators and their top deputies from the "double dip." The Assembly passed it.

Kirkland recently retired as Public Safety Director. But he maintained throughout the debate that the law should be available to all veteran state workers -- including administrators. He pointed out that police who retire in other states, come to Nevada and sign on with the Legislative police or another agency can collect their pension plus their Nevada salary. In fact, all Legislative Counsel Bureau workers can "double dip" both pension and salary.

Kirkland argued in an earlier interview that longtime public employees like himself shouldn't be penalized just because they worked their entire career in Nevada.

Senate Government Affairs Chair Ann O'Connell, R-Las Vegas, said that was basically the argument Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, made in killing the bill. She said a majority of the committee agreed and indefinitely postponed AB450.


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