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No health care for retired legislators if bill passes

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By a 58-14 vote, the House on Thursday advanced a bill that would take away life-time health care benefits for future retired legislators.

Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, said last year in his HB213 lawmakers "told state employees to tighten their belts." The bill cut back on retirement health care, causing hundreds of senior state workers to take early retirement.

Now legislators should tighten their belts also, said Clark, by giving up taxpayer-funded health care upon retirement.

Most legislators likely wouldn't get the benefit, so they aren't really giving up anything. That's because they won't serve until they are 62 years old and "retire" from the Legislature.

But a number of older legislators spoke against Clark's HB216, saying it's not fair — some legislators have planned their retirement counting on the benefit.

Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, tried to grandfather in all sitting legislators, so when they finally retired they would get life-time health care.

Clark's bill would take effect in 2007, so senior legislators would have to retire out of the Legislature by then or forever lose the existing retirement health care benefit.

Older legislators shouldn't start worrying yet, however. The Senate, which contains a number of older members, is not looking favorably on the bill, several House members said.