The Retired State Employees Association of Louisiana filed a suit in state court Aug. 16 to stop the implementation of a new state pension plan proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal and passed by the 2012 Legislature.

The group said the measure needed 70 votes to pass the Louisiana House, but it was adopted on a 68-36 vote. Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, ruled that passage required approval by a simple majority of lawmakers present, not a majority of the total House.

The 401(k)-type retirement plan is set to go into effect for new state employees hired on or after July 31, 2013.

Frank Jobert Jr., director of the association, said the dispute is more than a retirement issue. "If legislators think they can pass laws in violation of the constitution or state statutes, we don't know where that line will be drawn," he said.

Benny Harris, president of the association, called the retirement plan "a defective piece of legislation."
Jindal is confident that approval of the retirement shift was constitutional, said spokeswoman Shannon Bates.

"The cash balance plan will help get our debt under control, protect taxpayers, and provide new state employees with a portable retirement account that realizes investment earnings," Bates said.

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