Florida Senate - 2023                                     SB 896
       By Senator Torres
       25-01856-23                                            2023896__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to Deferred Retirement Option Program
    3         eligibility for school employees and personnel;
    4         amending s. 121.091, F.S.; deleting the time
    5         limitation for DROP eligibility for certain
    6         instructional personnel, administrative personnel, and
    7         educational support employees; providing a declaration
    8         of important state interest; providing an effective
    9         date.
   11  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   13         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (13) of section
   14  121.091, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   15         121.091 Benefits payable under the system.—Benefits may not
   16  be paid under this section unless the member has terminated
   17  employment as provided in s. 121.021(39)(a) or begun
   18  participation in the Deferred Retirement Option Program as
   19  provided in subsection (13), and a proper application has been
   20  filed in the manner prescribed by the department. The department
   21  may cancel an application for retirement benefits when the
   22  member or beneficiary fails to timely provide the information
   23  and documents required by this chapter and the department’s
   24  rules. The department shall adopt rules establishing procedures
   25  for application for retirement benefits and for the cancellation
   26  of such application when the required information or documents
   27  are not received.
   28         (13) DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION PROGRAM.—In general, and
   29  subject to this section, the Deferred Retirement Option Program,
   30  hereinafter referred to as DROP, is a program under which an
   31  eligible member of the Florida Retirement System may elect to
   32  participate, deferring receipt of retirement benefits while
   33  continuing employment with his or her Florida Retirement System
   34  employer. The deferred monthly benefits shall accrue in the
   35  Florida Retirement System on behalf of the member, plus interest
   36  compounded monthly, for the specified period of the DROP
   37  participation, as provided in paragraph (c). Upon termination of
   38  employment, the member shall receive the total DROP benefits and
   39  begin to receive the previously determined normal retirement
   40  benefits. Participation in the DROP does not guarantee
   41  employment for the specified period of DROP. Participation in
   42  DROP by an eligible member beyond the initial 60-month period as
   43  authorized in this subsection shall be on an annual contractual
   44  basis for all participants.
   45         (b) Participation in DROP.—Except as provided in this
   46  paragraph, an eligible member may elect to participate in DROP
   47  for a period not to exceed a maximum of 60 calendar months.
   48         1.a. Members who are instructional personnel employed by
   49  the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and authorized by
   50  the Board of Trustees of the Florida School for the Deaf and the
   51  Blind;, who are instructional personnel, administrative
   52  personnel, or educational support employees as defined in s.
   53  1012.01(2), (3), or (6), respectively, s. 1012.01(2)(a)-(d) in
   54  grades K-12 and authorized by the district school
   55  superintendent;, or who are instructional personnel as defined
   56  in s. 1012.01(2)(a) employed by a developmental research school
   57  and authorized by the school’s director, or if the school has no
   58  director, by the school’s principal, may participate in DROP for
   59  up to 36 calendar months beyond the 60-month period. Effective
   60  July 1, 2018, instructional personnel who are authorized to
   61  extend DROP participation beyond the 60-month period must have a
   62  termination date that is the last day of the last calendar month
   63  of the school year within the DROP extension granted by the
   64  employer. If, on July 1, 2018, the member’s DROP participation
   65  has already been extended for the maximum 36 calendar months and
   66  the extension period concludes before the end of the school
   67  year, the member’s DROP participation may be extended through
   68  the last day of the last calendar month of that school year. The
   69  employer shall notify the division of the change in termination
   70  date and the additional period of DROP participation for the
   71  affected instructional personnel.
   72         b.Administrative personnel in grades K-12, as defined in
   73  s. 1012.01(3), who have a DROP termination date on or after July
   74  1, 2018, may be authorized to extend DROP participation beyond
   75  the initial 60 calendar month period if the administrative
   76  personnel’s termination date is before the end of the school
   77  year. Such administrative personnel may have DROP participation
   78  extended until the last day of the last calendar month of the
   79  school year in which their original DROP termination date
   80  occurred if a date other than the last day of the last calendar
   81  month of the school year is designated. The employer shall
   82  notify the division of the change in termination date and the
   83  additional period of DROP participation for the affected
   84  administrative personnel.
   85         b.c. Effective July 1, 2022, a member of the Special Risk
   86  Class who is a law enforcement officer who meets the criteria in
   87  s. 121.0515(3)(a) and who is a DROP participant on or after July
   88  1, 2022, may participate in DROP for up to 36 calendar months
   89  beyond the 60-month period if he or she enters DROP on or before
   90  June 30, 2028.
   91         2. Upon deciding to participate in DROP, the member shall
   92  submit, on forms required by the division:
   93         a. A written election to participate in DROP;
   94         b. Selection of DROP participation and termination dates
   95  that satisfy the limitations stated in paragraph (a) and
   96  subparagraph 1. The termination date must be in a binding letter
   97  of resignation to the employer establishing a deferred
   98  termination date. The member may change the termination date
   99  within the limitations of subparagraph 1., but only with the
  100  written approval of the employer;
  101         c. A properly completed DROP application for service
  102  retirement as provided in this section; and
  103         d. Any other information required by the division.
  104         3. The DROP participant is a retiree under the Florida
  105  Retirement System for all purposes, except for paragraph (5)(f)
  106  and subsection (9) and ss. 112.3173, 112.363, 121.053, and
  107  121.122. DROP participation is final and may not be canceled by
  108  the participant after the first payment is credited during the
  109  DROP participation period. However, participation in DROP does
  110  not alter the participant’s employment status, and the member is
  111  not deemed retired from employment until his or her deferred
  112  resignation is effective and termination occurs as defined in s.
  113  121.021.
  114         4. Elected officers are eligible to participate in DROP
  115  subject to the following:
  116         a. An elected officer who reaches normal retirement date
  117  during a term of office may defer the election to participate
  118  until the next succeeding term in that office. An elected
  119  officer who exercises this option may participate in DROP for up
  120  to 60 calendar months or no longer than the succeeding term of
  121  office, whichever is less.
  122         b. An elected or a nonelected participant may run for a
  123  term of office while participating in DROP and, if elected,
  124  extend the DROP termination date accordingly; however, if such
  125  additional term of office exceeds the 60-month limitation
  126  established in subparagraph 1., and the officer does not resign
  127  from office within such 60-month limitation, the retirement and
  128  the participant’s DROP is null and void as provided in sub
  129  subparagraph (c)5.d.
  130         c. An elected officer who is dually employed and elects to
  131  participate in DROP must terminate all employment relationships
  132  as provided in s. 121.021(39) for the nonelected position within
  133  the original 60-month period or maximum participation period as
  134  provided in subparagraph 1. For DROP participation ending:
  135         (I) Before July 1, 2010, the officer may continue
  136  employment as an elected officer as provided in s. 121.053. The
  137  elected officer shall be enrolled as a renewed member in the
  138  Elected Officers’ Class or the Regular Class, as provided in ss.
  139  121.053 and 121.122, on the first day of the month after
  140  termination of employment in the nonelected position and
  141  termination of DROP. Distribution of the DROP benefits shall be
  142  made as provided in paragraph (c).
  143         (II) On or after July 1, 2010, the officer may continue
  144  employment as an elected officer but must defer termination as
  145  provided in s. 121.053.
  146         Section 2. The Legislature finds that a proper and
  147  legitimate state purpose is served when employees and retirees
  148  of the state and its political subdivisions, and the dependents,
  149  survivors, and beneficiaries of such employees and retirees, are
  150  extended the basic protections afforded by governmental
  151  retirement systems. These persons must be provided benefits that
  152  are fair and adequate and that are managed, administered, and
  153  funded in an actuarially sound manner, as required by s. 14,
  154  Article X of the State Constitution and part VII of chapter 112,
  155  Florida Statutes. Therefore, the Legislature determines and
  156  declares that this act fulfills an important state interest.
  157         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2023.