‘Right Thing To Do:' Lawmakers Override Stitt’s Veto To Increase Retirement Benefits For Law Enforcement

Lawmakers overrode Gov. Kevin Stitt's veto of a bill to increase law enforcement retirement benefits. However, the move came with debate on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, May 29th 2024, 10:54 pm

By: News 9, Jordan Fremstad


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Lawmakers overrode Gov. Kevin Stitt's veto of a bill to increase law enforcement retirement benefits. However, the move came with debate on Wednesday. 

Some lawmakers argued this bill could hurt future pensions while law enforcement officials said it is essential to hiring and keeping officers. The Oklahoma government’s checks and balances played out in front of members of law enforcement as they waited in anticipation as Senate lawmakers stood for and against Senate Bill 102. 

“I rise in strong support of this bill,” said Sen. Darrell Weaver (R-Moore), on the Senate floor on Wednesday. 

SB 102 will increase retirement benefits for recruited and current law enforcement officers.  

“I think we could do a lot better,” said Sen. Dewayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee), who opposed the bill. 

Last Thursday, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Mark Nelson said Oklahoma City and Tulsa’s Police departments are 400-500 officers short. 

“We can’t wait,” Nelson said. “We’re in a crisis.” 

Nelson said, without an increase in benefits, those departments will see further staffing loss. 

“We will easily lose another two hundred officers,” Nelson said. 

Last week Gov. Stitt posted a video to X, formerly known as Twitter. Stitt disagreed with the bill’s price tag and how the measure is funded to build the state’s pension system back to 100 percent. 

“The math just didn’t add up,” Stitt said. “Those contributions would not have been enough to cover those increased benefits.” 

Pemberton echoed that statement and argued that retired officers should get an increase in their retirement pensions lawmakers left out of this bill. 

“As much as it pains me, I will have to stand in opposition of this bill today,” Pemberton said. 

Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan), shared her recent experience where officers kept her family safe. She said, last Friday, a suspicious man showed up at a previous employer looking for her, and law enforcement was called to help. She told Senate lawmakers improvements must be made to keep officers in communities like her own. 

“And they’re still looking after my house,” Garvin said. “I urge you to join me in believing that this is the right thing to do.” 

Garvin voted to override Stitts' veto and 34 of her colleagues agreed as the measure passed 35-9. The House also passed the measure, to pass SB 102 into law. It goes into effect Nov. 1. 

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