Today, August 20, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed bill S1091a / A2239a into law.
Chapter 400 of the Laws of 2021 extend the maximum years of service credit that can be earned in a volunteer firefighter LOSAP from 40 years to 50 years.
The bill amends both Section 218 (defined contribution plans) and Section 219 (defined benefit plans) to include the same language, which is as follows:
The governing board of a political subdivision may extend the maximum number of years of service for which a participant may receive a contribution for up to an additional ten years, to a maximum of fifty years, and such increases in the number of years may be added in multiple increments or in a single action, pursuant to the adoption of the required resolution or resolutions of the governing board, receiving the affirmative vote of at least sixty percent of the governing board of the political subdivision, and the approval of any mandatory referendum or referenda authorizing the extension of benefits under the program by eligible voters within such political subdivision.
Interestingly, the language states that a political subdivision can extend the maximum years of service for which a participant may receive a contribution an additional ten years. That wording is more applicable to a defined contribution plan, where a participant receives a contribution into an account for each year of 50 points earned, rather than a defined benefit plan where a participant earns a monthly benefit instead.
However, the intention seems clear - that a LOSAP can be amended to extend the maximum years of service credit from 40 to 50 years, and that such extension requires voter approval at a mandatory referendum.
Yesterday, Monday August 9th, bill A2239a was delivered to the Governor. This bill would extend the maximum years of service credit that can be earned in a volunteer firefighter service award program from 40 to 50 years. Therefore, this also extends the number of years in which a participating firefighter can accrue benefits by another 10 years.
The timetable for signature or veto by the Governor is different depending on when a bill is delivered. If a bill is delivered while the Legislature is in session, the Governor has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign the bill into law, or veto it. If no action is taken, then the bill automatically becomes law.
However, if the Legislature is not in session, which is the current situation, the Governor has 30 days in which to sign the bill into law. If no action is taken, then the bill is considered vetoed. This inaction is referred to as a "pocket veto".
In the recent past, it appears the Governor has taken action within the 10-day window, even when it isn't required. We will monitor the bill and update our blog when action is taken.
Obviously, the Governor's resignation will impact the timing of the actions taken in some way. Again, we will continue to monitor and update our blog when action is taken.