|MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press|
In the final hours of the legislative session, state lawmakers crafted a pension law change that gives
The price tag is estimated to be
The deal was struck in a six-person legislative committee behind closed doors, with the bill's sponsor saying he had no understanding what the law change would do and no one directly taking ownership of the proposal.
"Either somebody's not being candid or somebody didn't read this bill. That much is clear," said state Treasurer
The superintendent, Col.
However, that argument was never given a public vetting because the merits of the law change didn't go through the traditional hearing process for legislation. Instead, it was tacked into a bill dealing with a different subject and rushed through the
"I do agree that the timing, the way it comes out at the end like that, it looks like it's something that shouldn't have happened," Edmonson said. "It was fair. It's just unfortunate that it came out in the last point of the session like that."
The board for the
Edmonson, an appointee of Gov.
The retirement language, added into a bill by Sen. J.P.
But he acknowledges he didn't follow up.
"When someone's hitchhiking on your bill at the last minute of session and the hitchhiker was seemingly innocuous, it was my responsibility to make sure it was innocuous and I didn't do that,"
The law change will let Edmonson retire as a full colonel instead of as a captain, so his pension payment will be calculated off the higher
"This wasn't some grand conspiracy. It just wasn't," Edmonson said.
Lawmakers also passed a
Same closed-door process, same lack of transparency.
That measure contains a long list of fee increases for drivers caught without insurance or who can't prove they have it when stopped in their vehicle.
Supporters say the bill makes it more expensive for drivers to not have insurance than to get a basic liability policy. Critics say it will hit people who already can't afford
The policy debate might have been a worthy one to have, but instead the law was written behind closed doors, giving little reassurance to a public already skeptical about how government business is conducted.
Kennedy warned: "The last day of the legislative session is always dangerous."
An AP News Analysis
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