Last minute change gives retirement boost to head of LSP - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Last minute change gives retirement boost to head of LSP

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Source: Louisiana State Police Source: Louisiana State Police
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) -

A last minute change to a Senate bill during the legislative session gives State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson a big boost in retirement benefits. At least one of the lawmakers who helped usher in the change says he had no idea it would benefit Edmonson.

State Rep. Walt Leger, III says he just recently found out that a report he signed off on as the legislative session drew to a close, increased the retirement salary of State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson and another trooper.

"It disappoints me and it certainly concerns me. When I questioned what this amendment was about, I was told that it dealt with solving inequities and irregularities with the state police retirement system. I took that to mean it had a broader application than it turns out that it has," said Leger.

Senate Bill 294, sponsored by State Rep. J.P. Morrell, actually addresses the rights of law enforcement officers when a complaint is made against them. Because the bill passed the house and senate separately in different forms, it was sent to a conference committee.

Leger and five others then reviewed the bill and amendments and signed off on a final report. It was eventually made law, but again, Leger says he had no idea the amendment dealt with Edmonson's retirement benefits.

Local attorney and political watchdog, C.B. Forgotston, says this incident points to a lack of integrity in the legislative process.

"What they've done is snuck an amendment in that is totally unconstitutional and at least two members of the conference committee are attorneys," said Forgotston.

Col. Edmonson tells FOX 8 he's been paying into the state police retirement system as a colonel for eight years. He was still part of an old retirement system that would have considered him at a captain's level for pay out purposes. With this change, Edmonson stands to receive about $30,000 more a year after retirement.

"Somebody has a lot of explaining to do. I understand how it looks but I want to get the facts first. That's the only rational way to proceed and I want to hear the other side of the story," said State Treasurer John Kennedy. 

Walt Leger says he's requested a bill be drafted to make it possible for the legislature to fully vet and debate the issue during the next legislative session. He says it must be determined what the right policy to handle this type of occurrence.

The state police retirement system is also currently reviewing what happened. Col. Edmonson says if it comes back and finds the way his benefits were changed wasn't ethical or legal, he won't accept the money.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 294, J.P. Morrell, wouldn't give us a comment for this story.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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