Delaware Lawmaker To Introduce Bill To Strip Pensions From Public Workers Convicted of Felonies


A Delaware lawmaker wants to re-introduce a bill that would strip pensions from public employees convicted of felonies.

Sen. Ernie Lopez [R-Lewes] initially introduced the bill last summer but it didn’t go far. However, Lopez hopes that recent events will highlight the importance of the bill.

From Delaware Online:

Sen. Ernie Lopez, a Lewes Republican, said in an e-mail to supporters that he wants to reintroduce the measure after Richard ‘Dickie’ Howell, a Kent County teacher and wrestling coach, was charged with child sex abuse and rape in what police said was a 10 month-long sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. He said in the email that a number of his constituents had reached out to him regarding the incident at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden.


“As a public policy maker and also as a father, I strongly believe that Delaware should be first in the nation in laws that protect our most vulnerable populations, especially our children,” Lopez wrote in the e-mail. “To think that 25 other states have pension forfeiture laws yet Delaware does not, demands that this bill deserves a full and open hearing.”

Lopez introduced similar legislation last June, but the measure never made it out of committee. Under that version of the legislation a state employee would have their pension terminated if they were convicted of felonies, including murder, child pornography, and sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust.

He said in the e-mail that he plans to circulate the bill for co-sponsors this week with the hope that the bill will be heard and assigned to a committee when the General Assembly reconvenes in March.

Half the states in the U.S. have similar laws on their books. Illinois is the most recent state to join those ranks.

Illinois Gov. Signs Law Allowing Felons To Be Stripped of Pensions

Illinois capitol

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a measure that allows the Illinois Attorney General to strip pension benefits from public officials who have been convicted of felonies related to their job.

The bill was passed unanimously by the state Senate earlier this month.

From the Associated Press:

A new state law will make it tougher for felons to receive a public pension.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Monday giving Illinois’ attorney general more power to stop pension payments to convicted felons.


The Illinois Supreme Court in July upheld a lower court ruling that Attorney General Lisa Madigan couldn’t challenge a Chicago police pension board decision allowing Burge to keep his taxpayer-supported pension.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul is a Chicago Democrat. He says it’s “unconscionable” that Burge receives a pension and the law allows “taxpayers a way to fight back.”

The bill came about after former Chicago policeman Jon Burge was allowed to keep his pension even after being convicted of a serious felony. From the Sun-Times:

In July, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled a Cook County court was correct in not allowing Madigan to intervene in a police pension matter. The decision allowed disgraced former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, who was convicted in 2010 for lying about the torture of police suspects, to keep his public pension of about $54,000 a year.

The police pension board deadlocked 4-4 on a motion to strip Burge of his pension. Some argued his conviction was not related to his police work, since he was convicted on perjury and obstruction of justice from a civil suit filed after he left the force.

Under the law, the state attorney general will be able to petition the court to strip pension benefits from public officials. Previously, the attorney general wasn’t allowed to intervene in the decision, which was left to pension boards.


Photo credit: “Gfp-illinois-springfield-capitol-and-sky” by Yinan Chen. Via Wikimedia Commons