(KCPW News) When two pieces of legislation that overhaul Utah’s public employee retirement system came up for a vote in the Senate, Senator Jon Greiner was the only Republican to oppose them. He also had the chance to oppose them in committee, where he could have cast the deciding “no” vote, but he didn’t show up. So, why would he skip this crucial vote? Greiner says he had a scheduling conflict, and doubts that he could have actually stopped the bills from moving forward.
“So, I had a two-hour meeting with contractors on Wednesday. This was rescheduled on Friday and I had a commitment, although it could have been canceled. The issue was he simply could have moved it, and we could have started all over. It wasn’t worth it; it needed to come to the floor for discussion. ”
Because the bills’ sponsor, Republican Senator Dan Liljenquist, is also the chairman of the Senate Retirement and Independent Entities Committee, he could have taken the bills to a different committee for consideration, or even introduced them directly on the floor.
However, Liljenquist said the Legislature tries to avoid those kinds of evasive maneuvers on important issues that deserve lengthy public comment and debate.
“When something is this important, we rarely try to have an end run in committee,” said Liljenquist. “You can see from the three-hour debate yesterday that there’s a lot of interest from both sides. So clearly there’s some challenges we have to face, and I feel comfortable that we had pretty vigorous debate on that and then we got to the right result.”
Senator Greiner voted “No” on Senate Bills 43 and 63, which eliminate a double-dipping loophole that allows retired employees to collect a pension even after resuming full-time employment, and reduce benefits for new employees hired starting July 2011. As Ogden Police Chief, Greiner is a public employee himself.