Fire pension reform bill passes House

A bill aimed at preventing firefighters from having multiple pensions was unanimously approved by the Illinois House of Representatives Thursday.

The bill sponsored by Naperville Republican state Rep. Grant Wehrli now heads to the state Senate.

The proposed legislation is a companion to a similar law that Wehrli championed last year and that went into effect this year that limits police officers to one public safety pension.

A Daily Herald investigation of suburban fire departments and fire protection districts in December showed that 15 suburban fire chiefs were receiving pensions - most over $100,000 a year - and building a second pension while receiving an annual salary over $100,000 at another fire job.

All of the state's fire lobbying groups opposed the bill during committee hearings. The Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative government finance think tank, testified in favor of the bill.

The bill makes an exemption for disability benefits if a firefighter is injured at a second department while receiving a pension from the first fire job.

If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

A sponsor for the bill has yet to be announced in the Senate.

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