PERS Board to rule on retirees running for legislature

Attorney General Jim Hood is encouraging state retirees to attend a meeting Tuesday with the Board of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) about their ability to run for the state legislature.

While PERS already allows retirees to serve in a local elected office, they are not allowed to serve in the state legislature without forfeiting their retirement benefits. General Hood issued an opinion on November 29 confirming that retired state employees should keep their pension while serving in the Mississippi Legislature. In Mississippi, an Attorney General opinion is the law of the land until a court of law rules differently.

“The PERS Retiree members have vested rights to their benefits, are entitled to receive their benefits and, if qualified and elected, they have a right to serve as a representative or senator in the Mississippi Legislature without forfeiture of their PERS retirement benefits,” the opinion says.

General Hood issued another opinion in January answering related questions. The PERS Board meeting is set for this Tuesday, February 12th at 11:30 a.m. and they will discuss whether to adopt regulations implementing AG Hood’s opinion in time for the March 1st deadline to qualify as a candidate for the legislature.

The meeting will be at the PERS office at 429 Mississippi Street in Jackson. General Hood strongly encourages any current government employees or retirees with any interest in potentially running for the Legislature office now or in the future to attend this important meeting and voice their support.

“Every citizen of this state deserves an equal opportunity to stand for elected office,” said Hood. “We should work together to remove this financial barrier which keeps retired teachers, law enforcement, social workers, health care workers and other hard working retirees from fully participating in our state government. “For too many years, the state has denied public retirees their hard-earned retirement money if they choose to continue serving their state as a legislator. Mississippi desperately needs and deserves its best citizens, including retirees, serving as legislators. I encourage anyone who works for the state who has ever had the smallest interest in one day serving as a legislator or in a statewide elected position to attend Tuesday’s meeting, as the decisions of PERS will directly impact your future ability to be a public servant while still receiving your retirement.”