Chapter 510

2007 -- S 0619

Enacted 10/30/07

 

A N A C T

RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE - COURTS - PENSIONS AND BENEFITS -- DOMESTIC PARTNERS

     

     

     Introduced By: Senators Connors, J Montalbano, Paiva-Weed, Perry, and C Levesque

     Date Introduced: February 15, 2007

 

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

 

     SECTION 1. Sections 8-3-11, 8-3-13 and 8-3-15 of the General Laws in Chapter 8-3

entitled "Justices of Supreme, Superior, and Family Courts" are hereby amended to read as

follows:

 

     8-3-11. Allowances to surviving spouses or minor children of deceased justices

Allowances to surviving spouses, domestic partners or minor children of deceased justices. -

- (a) Whenever any justice of the supreme court, the superior court, the family court, or the

district court dies after retirement or during active service while eligible for retirement, or during

active service after having served fifteen (15) years or more in office, his or her surviving spouse

or domestic partner shall receive annually thereafter, during his or her lifetime and so long as he

or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership, an amount equal to one-half (1/2) of

the annual payment that the justice was receiving by way of salary or retirement pay at the time of

his or her death. Whenever a justice of any of the courts shall die without having become eligible

to retire either under section 8-3-7 or 8-3-8 and has served seven (7) years or more in office, his

or her surviving spouse or domestic partner shall receive annually thereafter, during his or her

lifetime and so long as he or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership, one-third (

1/3) of the annual salary that the justice was receiving at the time of his or her death. Whenever a

justice of the courts shall die without having become eligible to retire either under section 8-3-7

or 8-3-8 and has not served seven (7) years in office, his or her surviving spouse or domestic

partner shall receive annually thereafter, during his or her lifetime and so long as he or she

remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership, one-fourth (1/4) of the annual salary that the

justice was receiving at the time of his or her death.

      (b) In the event the deceased justice shall have no surviving spouse or domestic partner,

or the surviving spouse or domestic partner should predecease their minor children, then the

benefits conferred by this section shall be received in equal shares by the minor children, if any,

until each shall attain the age of twenty-one (21) years. Any justice of the courts who retires

under the provisions of section 8-3-7, 8-3-8, or 8-3-12 may at his or her option elect to receive

three-fourths (3/4) of his or her retirement pay, and where such option is exercised by giving the

general treasurer notice in writing thereof within two (2) years after the date of his or her

retirement, his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner or minor children shall receive

annually one-half (1/2) of his or her retirement pay during his or her lifetime so long as he or she

remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnerhip, or the children are under twenty-one (21)

years of age.

 

     8-3-13. Pension for surviving spouses of judges dying prior to May 10, 1974 Pension

for surviving spouses or domestic partners of judges dying prior to May 10, 1974. --

Whenever any justice of the superior court, having served as a justice for at least seven (7) years

who died prior to May 10, 1974 during active service, his or her surviving spouse or domestic

partner shall receive annually thereafter, during his or her lifetime and so long as he or she

remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership, an amount equal to one-third ( 1/3) of the

annual payment that the justice was receiving by way of salary or retirement pay at the time of his

or her death.

 

     8-3-15. Cost of living allowance. -- (a) All justices of the supreme court, superior court,

family court, or district court, or their surviving spouses or domestic partners, who retire after

January 1, 1970 and who receive a retirement allowance pursuant to the provisions of this title

shall, on the first day of January next following the third anniversary date of retirement, receive a

cost-of-living retirement adjustment in addition to his or her retirement allowance in an amount

equal to three percent (3%) of the original retirement allowance. In each succeeding year

thereafter during the month of January, the retirement allowance shall be increased an additional

three percent (3%) of the original allowance, not compounded, to be continued during the lifetime

of the justice or his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner. For the purpose of such

computation, credit shall be given for a full calendar year regardless of the effective date of the

retirement allowance.

      (b) Any justice who retired prior to January 31, 1977 shall be deemed for the purpose of

this section to have retired on January 1, 1977.

 

     SECTION 2. Chapter 8-3 of the General Laws entitled "Justices of Supreme, Superior,

and Family Courts" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     8-3-19. Domestic partner -- Definition. For purposes of this chapter, "domestic

partner" shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive,

intimate and committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their

relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 3. Sections 8-8.2-11 and 8-8.2-12 of the General Laws in Chapter 8-8.2

entitled "Traffic tribunal" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     8-8.2-11. Allowance to surviving spouses of deceased judges Allowance to surviving

spouses or domestic partners of deceased judges. -- Whenever any judge of the administrative

adjudication court or any judge of the administrative adjudication court who is reassigned by this

chapter to the traffic tribunal dies after retirement or during active service while eligible for

retirement, the spouse's judge's surviving spouse or domestic partner shall receive annually

thereafter during his or her lifetime and so long as he or she remains unmarried or not in a

domestic partnership, an amount equal to one third (1/3) of the annual payment that the

administrative judge was receiving by way of salary or retirement pay at the time of his or her

death. Whenever a judge of the administrative adjudication court or any judge of the

administrative adjudication court who is reassigned by this act to the traffic tribunal shall die

without having become eligible to retire under section 8-8.2-6 and has served ten (10) years or

more in office, his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner shall receive annually thereafter

during the spouse's or domestic partner's lifetime and so long as he or she remains unmarried or

not in a domestic partnership, one fourth (1/4) of the annual salary that the judge was receiving at

the time of his or her death.

      Any judge who retires under the provisions of section 8-8.2-6 may at his or her option

elect to receive three fourths (3/4) of his or her retirement pay, and where the option is exercised

by giving the general treasurer notice in writing thereof within two (2) years after the date of his

or her retirement, his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner shall receive annually one half

(1/2) of his or her retirement pay during the spouse's or domestic partner's lifetime so long as he

or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership.

 

     8-8.2-12. Additional benefits payable to retired judges and their surviving spouses

Additional benefits payable to retired judges and their surviving spouses or domestic

partners. -- (a) All judges of the administrative adjudication court and all judges of the

administrative adjudication court who have been reassigned to the traffic tribunal, or their

surviving spouses or domestic partners, who retire after January 1, 1970 and who receive a

retirement allowance pursuant to the provisions of this title, shall, on the first day of January, next

following the third anniversary of the retirement, receive a cost of living retirement adjustment in

addition to his or her retirement allowance in an amount equal to three percent (3%) of the

original retirement allowance. In each succeeding year thereafter during the month of January, the

retirement allowance shall be increased an additional three percent (3%) of the original

allowance, compounded annually from the year cost of living adjustment was first payable to be

continued during the lifetime of the judge or his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner. For

the purpose of such computation, credit shall be given for a full calendar year regardless of the

effective date of the retirement allowance.

      (b) Any judge who retired prior to January 31, 1980, shall be deemed for the purpose of

this section to have retired on January 1, 1980.

 

     SECTION 4. Chapter 8-8.2 of the General Laws entitled "Traffic tribunal" is hereby

amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     8-8.2-20. Domestic partner -- Definition. -- For purposes of this chapter, "domestic

partner" shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive,

intimate and committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their

relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 5. Section 11-41-31 of the General Laws in Chapter 11-41 entitled "Theft,

Embezzlement, False Pretenses, and Misappropriation" is hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     11-41-31. Pension revocation. -- (a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any

person who is convicted or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to any offense, and the offense is

related to his or her public office of employment pursuant to section 36-10.1-2, the judge, as part

of any sentence imposed, may revoke or reduce any retirement or any benefit or payment to

which the public official or public employee is otherwise entitled under titles 36, 16, 45, and 8,

under chapter 30 of title 28, under chapter 43 of title 31 or under chapter 28 of title 42.

      (b) (1) In determining whether the retirement or other benefit shall be revoked or

reduced the court shall consider and make a finding on the following factors:

      (i) The fact that the allowance of retirement or other benefits or payments for service

under this title, under title 16, under title 45, under title 8, under chapter 30 of title 28, under

chapter 43 of title 31, and under chapter 28 of title 42 presumes and requires that the service shall

have been honorably rendered;

      (ii) The severity of the crime related to public office or public employment of which the

public official or public employee has been convicted or to which the public official or public

employee has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere;

      (iii) The amount of monetary loss suffered by the public official's or public employee's

employer or by any other person as a result of the subject crime related to public office or public

employment;

      (iv) The degree of public trust reposed in the subject public official or public employee

by virtue of his or her public office or public employment; and

      (v) Any other factors that, in the judgment of the superior court, justice may require.

      (2) If the superior court determines that the retirement or other benefits or payments of a

public official or public employee should be revoked or reduced under this chapter, it may, in its

discretion and after taking into consideration the status of the pension as marital property and the

financial needs and resources of any innocent spouse, dependent and/or designated beneficiaries

of the public official or public employee, order that some or all of the revoked or reduced benefits

or payments be paid to any innocent spouse, dependent or beneficiary as justice may require.

      (3) If the court determines that the retirement or other benefits or payments of a public

official or public employee should not be revoked or reduced under this chapter, it shall order that

the retirement or other benefits or payments be made to the public official or public employee.

      (c) Prior to revoking or reducing the benefit, the court shall order a pre-sentence report

pursuant to section 12-19-6.

      (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an innocent party from notifying

the court by motion of an interest in the pension benefit.

     (e) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who,

prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the

decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 6. Sections 16-16-1, 16-16-25, 16-16-26, 16-16-27 and 16-16-30 of the

General Laws in Chapter 16-16 entitled "Teachers' Retirement" are hereby amended to read as

follows:

 

     16-16-1. Definitions. -- (a) The following words and phrases used in this chapter, unless

a different meaning is plainly required by the context, have the following meanings:

      (1) "Active member" means any teacher as defined in this section for whom the

retirement system is currently receiving regular contributions pursuant to sections 16-16-22 and

16-16-22.1.

      Except as otherwise provided in this section, the words and phrases used in this chapter,

so far as applicable, have the same meanings as they have in chapters 8 to 10 of title 36.

      (2) "Beneficiary" means any person in receipt of annuity, benefit, or retirement

allowance from the retirement system as provided in this chapter.

      (3) "Child" includes a stepchild of a deceased member who has been a stepchild for at

least one year immediately preceding the date on which the member died or an adopted child of a

deceased member without regard to the length of time the child has been adopted.

      (4) "Former spouse divorced" means a person divorced from a deceased member, but

only if the person meets one of the following conditions:

      (i) Is the mother or father of the deceased member's child(ren);

      (ii) Legally adopted the deceased member's child(ren) while married to the deceased

member and while the child(ren) was under the age of eighteen (18) years; or

      (iii) Was married to the deceased member at the time both of them legally adopted a

child(ren) under the age of eighteen (18) years.

      (5) "Member" means any person included in the membership of the retirement system

under the provisions of this chapter.

      (6) "Prior service" means service as a teacher rendered prior to the first day of July,

1949, certified on his or her prior service certificate and allowable as prior service under the

provisions of this chapter.

      (7) "Retired teacher" means any teacher who retired prior to July 1, 1949, pursuant to the

provisions of G.L. 1938, ch. 195, as amended, and who on June 30, 1949, was in receipt of a

pension under the provisions of that chapter.

      (8) "Retirement system" and "system" means the employees' retirement system of the

state of Rhode Island created by chapter 8 of title 36, and "retirement board" means the board

established under that chapter.

      (9) "Salary" or "compensation" includes any and all salary paid for teaching services

regardless of whether any part of the salary or compensation is derived from any state or federal

grant or appropriation for teachers' salaries, as the term is defined in section 36-8-1(7).

      (10) "Service" means service as a teacher as described in subdivision (12) of this section.

Periods of employment as teacher, principal, assistant principal, supervisor, superintendent, or

assistant superintendent shall be combined in computing periods of service and employment.

      (11) "Spouse" means the surviving person who was married to a deceased member, but

only if the surviving person meets one of the following conditions:

      (i) Was married to the deceased member for not less than one year immediately prior to

the date on which the member died;

      (ii) Is the mother or father of the deceased member's child(ren);

      (iii) Legally adopted the deceased member's child(ren) while married to the deceased

member and while the child(ren) was under the age of eighteen (18) years; or

      (iv) Was married to the deceased member at the time both of them legally adopted a

child(ren) under the age of eighteen (18) years.

      (12) "Teacher" means a person required to hold a certificate of qualification issued by or

under the authority of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education and who is

engaged in teaching as his or her principal occupation and is regularly employed as a teacher in

the public schools of any city or town in the state, or any formalized, commissioner approved,

cooperative service arrangement. The term includes a person employed as a teacher, supervisor,

principal, assistant principal, superintendent, or assistant superintendent of schools, director,

assistant director, coordinator, consultant, dean, assistant dean, educational administrator, nurse

teacher, and attendance officer or any person who has worked in the field of education or is

working in the field of education that holds a teaching or administrative certificate and any

teacher who serves during a school year at least three-quarters ( 3/4) of the number of days that

the public schools are required by law to be in session during the year. In determining the number

of days served by a teacher the total number of days served in any public school of any city or

town in the state may be combined for any one school year. The term also includes a school

business administrator whether or not the administrator holds a teaching or administrative

certificate, and also includes occupational therapists and physical therapists licensed by the

department of health and employed by a school committee in the state, or by any formalized,

commissioner approved, cooperative service arrangement.

      (13) "Teaching" includes teaching, supervising, and superintending or assistant

superintending of schools.

      (14) "Total service" means prior service as defined in subdivision (6) of this section, plus

service rendered as a member of the system on or after the first day of July, 1949.

     (15) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who,

prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the

decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

     (i) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (ii) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (iii) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (iv) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (v) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (A) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (B) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (C) two (2) of: (I) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (II) joint checking account; (III) joint

credit account; (IV) joint lease; and/or

     (D) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

      (b) The masculine pronoun wherever used shall also include the feminine pronoun.

 

     16-16-25. Eligibility for survivor's benefits -- Payment. -- A member's dependents or

survivors shall be eligible to receive the benefits provided in sections 16-16-25 through 16-16-38

if the member shall have made regular contributions to the teachers' survivors benefit fund as

provided in section 16-16-34 for a period of at least six (6) consecutive calendar months prior to

his or her death or retirement, as the case may be. These benefits shall be payable the first of the

month following that month in which eligibility for the benefits occurs and shall be paid at the

same time as the regular retirement allowance payments are made. No payment shall be due for

the month in which ineligibility occurs. No widow's or mother's or domestic partner's benefit

payable under sections 16-16-25 through 16-16-38 shall be reduced because of benefits payable

to other dependents of the deceased member under the provisions of sections 16-16-25 through

16-16-38.

 

     16-16-26. Spouse's benefits Spouse's or domestic partner's benefits. -- (a) Spouse's

and domestic partner's benefits are payable following the decease of a member as provided in

sections 16-16-25 through 16-16-38.

     (b) The spouse or domestic partner shall be entitled to benefits upon attaining the age of

sixty (60) years.

     (c) The spouse or domestic partner was living with the deceased member at the time of

the member's death. A spouse or domestic partner is deemed to have been living with the

deceased member if they were both members of the same household on the date of the deceased

member's death, or the spouse or domestic partner was receiving regular contributions from the

deceased member toward support on that date, or the deceased member had been ordered by a

court to contribute to the spouse's or domestic partner's support.

     (d) Remarriage of the spouse or domestic partner or establishment of a domestic

partnership shall render him or her ineligible to receive current or future benefits under this

section.

     (e) The spouse or domestic partner of a member, as defined in this section, shall be

entitled to monthly benefits payable in accordance with the following table:

     Highest Spouse's or Domestic Partner's

     Annual Monthly Salary Minimum Benefit

     $17,000 or less $750

     $17,001 to $25,000 875

     $25,001 to $33,000 1,000

     $33,001 to $40,000 1,125

     $40,001 and over 1,250

      (f) A yearly cost-of-living adjustment for spouse's or domestic partner's benefits shall be

based on the annual social security adjustment.

 

     16-16-27. Family benefits. -- (a) Family benefits shall be payable upon the decease of

the member as provided in sections 16-16-25 through 16-16-38 if at the time of the member's

death the surviving spouse or domestic partner:

     (1) Has in his or her care a child of the deceased member entitled to child benefits;

     (2) Is not entitled to a spouse's or domestic partner's benefit as provided in this chapter;

and

     (3) Was living with the deceased member at the time of his or her death.

     (b) Family benefits shall be payable in accordance with the following table. The monthly

benefit shall be equal to the benefit that would be available to a spouse or domestic partner under

section 16-16-26 multiplied by the following percentages:

     Parent Parent Parent One Two Three

     and 1 and 2 and more Child Children or more

     Child Children than 2 Alone Alone Children

Children Alone

     150% 175% 175% 75% 150% 175%

      (c) Family benefits as set forth in this section are payable to the former spouse or to a

former domestic partner divorced of a deceased member, if the former spouse or to a former

domestic partner divorced:

     (1) Has in his or her care a child of the deceased member who is his or her son, daughter,

or legally adopted child entitled to child benefits payable on the basis of the deceased member's

salary;

     (2) Was receiving from the deceased member, pursuant to agreement or court order, at

least one-half (1/2) of his or her support at the time of the deceased member's death;

     (3) Is not entitled to a spouse's or domestic partner's benefit as provided in sections 16-

16-25 through 16-16-38.

     (d) The family monthly benefit shall be payable in accordance with the table set forth in

this section. A spouse or domestic partner who no longer qualifies for benefits under this section

because his or her child or children have attained the age of eighteen (18) years or twenty-three

(23) years and a full time student shall be entitled to receive monthly benefits upon attaining sixty

(60) years of age in accordance with the benefits set forth in section 16-16-26. The family

benefits provided under this section shall cease upon the remarriage of the surviving spouse or

domestic partner or establishment of a domestic partnership.

 

     16-16-30. Parent's benefits. -- (a) Parent's benefits are payable to the parent or parents

of a deceased member if the member did not leave a widow, widower, or child who could ever

qualify for monthly benefits on the member's wages and the parent:

      (1) Has reached the age of sixty (60) years;

      (2) Has not remarried or entered into a domestic partnership after the death of the

member;

      (3) Was receiving at least one-half (1/2) of his or her support from the member at the

time of the member's death and filed proof of his or her support within two (2) years of the date

of death; and

      (4) Is not entitled to a federal or state old age benefit based on his or her own earnings

equal to or greater than the amount he or she would be entitled to as the dependent parent of the

deceased member.

      (b) A parent's benefit shall be payable monthly in accordance with the benefits set forth

in section 16-16-26.

 

     SECTION 7. Sections 28-30-17 and 28-30-18 of the General Laws in Chapter 28-30

entitled "Workers' Compensation Court" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     28-30-17. Allowance to surviving spouses of deceased judges Allowance to surviving

spouses and domestic partners of deceased judges. -- (a) Whenever any judge of the workers'

compensation court dies after retirement or during active service while eligible for retirement or

during active service after having served fifteen (15) years or more in office, his or her surviving

spouse or domestic partner shall receive annually thereafter during his or her lifetime and so long

as he or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership, an amount equal to one-half (

1/2) of the annual payment that the judge was receiving by way of salary or retirement pay at the

time of his or her death.

      (b) Whenever a judge of the workers' compensation court dies without having become

eligible to retire either under section 28-30-15 or 28-30-16 and has served seven (7) years or more

in office, his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner shall receive annually thereafter during

his or her lifetime and so long as he or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership

one-third ( 1/3) of the annual salary that the judge was receiving at the time of his or her death.

      (c) Any judge who retires under the provisions of section 28-30-15 or 28-30-16 may at

his or her option elect to receive three-fourths ( 3/4) of his or her retirement pay, and where that

option is exercised by giving the general treasurer notice in writing within two (2) years after the

date of his or her retirement, his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner or minor children

shall receive annually one-half (1/2) of his or her retirement pay during his or her lifetime so long

as spouse he or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership or the children are

under twenty-one (21) years of age.

      (d) Whenever a judge of the workers' compensation court dies without having become

eligible to retire either under section 28-30-15 or 28-30-16 and has not served seven (7) years in

office, his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner shall subsequently receive annually during

his or her lifetime and so long as he or she remains unmarried or not in a domestic partnership,

one fourth (1/4) of the annual salary that the judge was receiving at the time of his or her death.

      (e) In the event the deceased judge has no surviving spouse or domestic partner or the

surviving spouse or domestic partner predeceases their minor children, the benefits conferred by

this section shall be received in equal shares by the minor children, if any, until each attains the

age of twenty-one (21) years.

 

     28-30-18. Additional benefits payable to retired judges and their surviving spouses

Additional benefits payable to retired judges and their surviving spouses or domestic

partners. -- (a) All judges of the workers' compensation court, or their surviving spouses or

domestic partners, who retire after January 1, 1970 and who receive a retirement allowance

pursuant to the provisions of this title, shall, on the first day of January next following the third

anniversary date of their retirement, receive a cost of living retirement adjustment in addition to

his or her retirement allowance in an amount equal to three percent (3%) of the original

retirement allowance. In each succeeding subsequent year during the month of January the

retirement allowance shall be increased an additional three percent (3%) of the original

allowance, compounded annually from the year the cost of living adjustment was first payable to

be continued during the lifetime of that judge or his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner.

For the purpose of that computation, credit shall be given for a full calendar year regardless of the

effective date of the retirement allowance.

      (b) Any judge who retired prior to January 31, 1980, shall be deemed for the purpose of

this section to have retired on January 1, 1980.

 

     SECTION 8. Chapter 28-30 of the General Laws entitled "Workers' Compensation

Court" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     28-30-24. Domestic partner -- Definition. -- For purposes of this chapter, "domestic

partner" shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive,

intimate and committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their

relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 9. Sections 30-22-1 and 30-22-3 of the General Laws in Chapter 30-22

entitled "Extension of Veterans' Benefits" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     30-22-1. World War II veterans. -- The provisions of all of the statutes of this state

granting benefits or privileges to veterans of any war in which the United States of America has

heretofore been engaged, or to the widow or widower or domestic partner or other surviving kin

of deceased veterans of that war, shall hereafter be construed to provide for like benefits and

privileges for any veteran of world war II who has heretofore or may hereafter be honorably

discharged from the armed forces of this nation, and to the widow or widower or domestic partner

or other surviving kin of deceased veteran of that war.

 

     30-22-3. Veterans of undeclared wars or campaigns. -- The provisions of all of the

statutes of this state granting benefits, privileges or bonuses to veterans of any war in which the

United States of America has heretofore been engaged, or to the widow or widower or domestic

partner or other surviving kin of deceased veterans of that war, shall hereafter be construed to

provide for like benefits, privileges and bonuses for any man or woman of the armed forces who

has been engaged heretofore, is now, or may hereafter be engaged in the active conduct of and/or

fighting in the Korean campaign or the conflict in Viet Nam or any following campaign or war,

declared or undeclared, which the armed forces of the United States of America conduct or in

which those forces have a part, and who, having been actively engaged as hereinbefore described,

has heretofore or may hereafter be honorably discharged from the armed forces of this nation, and

to the widow or widower or domestic partner or other surviving kin of any such deceased veteran

of that campaign or war.

 

     SECTION 10. Chapter 30-22 of the General Laws entitled "Extension of Veterans'

Benefits" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     30-22-6. Domestic partner defined. -- For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner"

shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and

committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship

met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 11. Sections 36-10-9.1, 36-10-18, 36-10-19.1 and 36-10-20 of the General

Laws in Chapter 36-10 entitled "Retirement System-Contributions and Benefits" are hereby

amended to read as follows:

 

     36-10-9.1. Retirement on service allowance -- Legislators. -- (a) Every person who

shall have served as a member of the senate or of the house of representatives, or in combination

of both the senate and the house of representatives, and/or other employment as defined in section

36-9-20, and/or including up to four (4) years of military service as defined in section 36-9-31,

for a period in the aggregate of eight (8) years, and having attained the age of fifty-five (55) years

shall be entitled to receive a retirement allowance, as in section 36-10-10.1 upon application

therefor to the retirement board; provided, however, that any person who shall have served as a

member of the senate or of the house of representatives, or in combination of both the senate and

the house of representatives, and/or other employment as defined in section 36-9-20, and/or

including up to four (4) years of military service as defined in section 36-9-31, for a period in the

aggregate of twenty (20) years or more shall be entitled to receive a retirement allowance as in

section 36-10-10.1 regardless of his or her age upon completion of the twenty (20) years;

provided further, however, that if any person who shall have served as a member of the senate or

the house of representatives, or in combination of both the senate or the house of representatives,

and/or other employment as defined in section 36-9-20, for a period in the aggregate of eight (8)

years dies leaving a surviving spouse or domestic partner, the benefit as provided by section 36-

10-10.1 shall be payable to his or her spouse or domestic partner to be continued for his or her

lifetime or remarriage or establishment of a domestic partnership.

      (b) No legislator shall be eligible for benefits under this section unless the legislator shall

have served a minimum of four (4) years as a member of the senate or the house of

representatives or in combination of both the senate and the house of representatives.

      (c) Except as hereinafter provided, any legislator, elected at the general election in 1988

or thereafter to serve as a member of the general assembly shall not be eligible for benefits under

subsection (a) of this section unless the legislator shall have served a minimum of eight (8) years

as a member of the senate or the house of representatives or in combination of both the senate and

the house of representatives; provided however, that the provisions of this subsection shall not

apply to any legislator who was elected to serve as a member of the general assembly prior to the

general election of 1988.

      (d) Service credits earned prior to January 5, 1993, by a person as a member of the

senate or of the house of representatives or in combination of both the senate and the house of

representatives may be utilized by that person for any retirement purpose permitted under current

law.

      (e) Service credits earned on or after January 5, 1993, by a person as a member of the

senate or of the house of representatives or in combination of both the senate and the house of

representatives may be utilized by that person only for the purposes of section 36-10-10.1.

 

     36-10-18. Optional benefits. -- (a) A beneficiary, or, if the beneficiary be an

incompetent, then the beneficiary's spouse or domestic partner or if there is no spouse or domestic

partner, a guardian of the beneficiary's estate, may elect to receive the benefit in a retirement

allowance, payable throughout life, or the beneficiary may then elect to receive the actuarial

equivalent, at that time, of the beneficiary's retirement allowance in a lesser retirement allowance

as determined by actuarial calculation, which shall be payable throughout life with the provision

that:

      (1) Option 1. - Upon the beneficiary's death, the beneficiary's lesser retirement allowance

shall be continued throughout the life of and paid to such person having an insurable interest in

the beneficiary's life, as the beneficiary, the beneficiary's spouse or domestic partner, or the

beneficiary's guardian so electing, shall nominate by written designation duly acknowledged and

filed with the retirement board at the time of his or her retirement.

      (2) Option 2. - Upon the beneficiary's death, one-half (1/2) of the beneficiary's lesser

retirement allowance shall be continued throughout the life of and paid to such person, having an

insurable interest in the beneficiary's life, as the beneficiary, the beneficiary's spouse or domestic

partner, or the beneficiary's guardian so electing, shall nominate by written designation duly

acknowledged and filed with the retirement board at the time of the beneficiary's retirement.

      (b) (1) For purposes of any election under this section or section 36-10-19.1, the

member, member's spouse or domestic partner, or guardian, as the case may be, may designate

more than one person to receive benefits after the member's death, provided that the designation

shall specify the portion of the actuarial equivalent of the member's retirement allowance to be

paid to each person, and provided further that the aggregate actuarial value of the portions shall

not exceed the actuarial equivalent of the member's retirement benefit determined:

      (i) In the case of an election under this section) as of the date of the member's retirement;

or

      (ii) In the case of an election under section 36-10-19.1 as of the member's date of death.

      (2) A member selecting more than one person to receive benefits under this section or

section 36-10-19.1 may only select beneficiaries from among his or her children, adopted

children, step-children, and/or spouse or domestic partner.

 

     36-10-19.1. Optional annuity protection -- In service. -- (a) Upon the death of a

member having at least ten (10) years of membership service, the spouse or domestic partner of

the member shall have the option to elect to receive option one as provided in section 36-10-18(a)

in lieu of a return of contributions, provided the spouse or domestic partner is the designated

beneficiary of the member's retirement account. The election shall be based upon the amount of

retirement allowance or actuarial equivalent that may accrue at the date of death of the member.

      (b) The election under option one of section 36-10-18(a) for a person other than the

spouse or domestic partner of the member may be made by the member, while in service,

provided the member has at least ten (10) years of membership service and before retirement, on

a form prescribed by the retirement board. The election shall be based upon the amount of

retirement allowances or actuarial equivalents that may accrue at the date of death of the member,

provided that the election form is executed and filed with the retirement board prior to the date of

death. The election may be revoked or modified by the member at any time prior to the date of

retirement on a form prescribed by the retirement board.

      (c) Upon the death of a member, the option shall become effective thirty (30) days after

the first day of the calendar month next following the date of death of the member if death occurs

while in an employee status. Should death occur while in an inactive member status, the option

under this section shall become payable on the first of the month next succeeding that in which

the designated beneficiary attains the age of sixty (60) years.

 

     36-10-20. Accidental death benefits. -- Upon the accidental death of a member while in

service before retirement, provided that evidence shall be submitted to the retirement board

proving that the death of the member was the natural and proximate result of an accident while in

the performance of duty at some definite time and place, and that the death was not the result of

willful negligence on his or her part, his or her accumulated contributions, including interest on

all contributions to the date of death of the member, shall be paid to the person having an

insurable interest in his or her life as the member shall have nominated by written designation

duly executed and filed with the retirement board, or if the member has filed no nomination or if

the person so nominated shall have died, then to the estate of the deceased member, and upon

application by or on behalf of the dependents of the deceased member the retirement board shall

grant a benefit equal to one-half (1/2) of the rate of annual compensation of the member at date of

death:

      (1) To the member's widow or widower or domestic partner for life unless he or she

remarries or enters into a domestic partnership;

      (2) If there be no widow, or widower or domestic partner or if the widow or widower or

domestic partner dies or remarries or enters into a domestic partnership before any child of the

deceased member shall have attained the age of eighteen (18) years, then to the member's child or

children under the age of eighteen (18) years, divided in such manner as the retirement board in

its discretion shall determine, to continue as a joint and survivor annuity equal to one-half (1/2) of

the member's rate of annual compensation at the date of death until every child dies or attains the

age of eighteen (18) years; or

      (3) If there be no widow or widower or domestic partner or child under the age of

eighteen (18) years surviving the deceased member, then to his or her dependent father or mother

as the deceased member shall have nominated by written designation duly acknowledged and

filed with the retirement board; or, if there be no nomination, then to his or her dependent father

or to his or her dependent mother as the retirement board in its discretion shall direct, to continue

for life.

 

     SECTION 12. Chapter 36-10 of the General Laws entitled "Retirement System-

Contributions and Benefits" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     36-10-40. Domestic partner -- Definition. -- For purposes of this chapter, "domestic

partner" shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive,

intimate and committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their

relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 13. Sections 36-10.1-2 and 36-10.1-3 of the General Laws in Chapter 36-10.1

entitled "Rhode Island Public Employee Pension Revocation and Reduction Act" are hereby

amended to read as follows:

 

     36-10.1-2. Definitions. -- (a) "Crime related to public office or public employment" shall

mean any of the following criminal offenses:

      (1) The committing, aiding, or abetting of an embezzlement of public funds;

      (2) The committing, aiding, or abetting of any felonious theft by a public officer or

employee from his or her employer;

      (3) Bribery in connection with employment of a public officer or employee; and

      (4) The committing of any felony by a public officer or employee who, willfully and

with the intent to defraud, realizes or obtains, or attempts to realize or obtain, a profit, gain, or

advantage for himself or herself or for some other person through the use or attempted use of the

power, rights, privileges, duties, or position of his or her public office or employment position.

      (b) "Public official" or "public employee" shall mean any current or former state or

municipal elected official as defined in section 36-14-2(10), state or municipal appointed official

as defined in section 36-14-2(4), and any employee of state or local government, of boards,

commissions or agencies as defined in section 36-14-2(8)(i), (ii), who is otherwise entitled to

receive or who is receiving retirement benefits under this title, under title 16, under title 45, under

title 8, under chapter 30 of title 28, under chapter 43 of title 31, or under chapter 28 of title 42,

whether that person is acting on a permanent or temporary basis and whether or not compensated

on a full-time or part-time basis. For the purposes of this chapter, all these persons are deemed to

be engaged in public employment.

      (c) As used in this chapter, the phrase "pleads guilty or nolo contendere" shall not

include any plea of nolo contendere which does not constitute a conviction by virtue of section

12-10-12 or 12-18-3.

     (d) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who,

prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the

decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     36-10.1-3. Revocation and reduction of benefits. -- (a) Notwithstanding any other

provision of law, any retirement or other benefit or payment of any kind to which a public official

or public employee is otherwise entitled under this chapter, under title 16, under title 45, under

title 8, under chapter 30 of title 28, under chapter 43 of title 31, or under chapter 28 of title 42

shall be revoked or reduced, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or section 11-41-

31 if, after January 1, 1993, the public official or public employee is convicted of or pleads guilty

or nolo contendere to any crime related to his or her public office or public employment. Any

such conviction or plea shall be deemed to be a breach of the public officer's or public employee's

contract with his or her employer.

      (b) Whenever any public official or public employee is convicted of or pleads guilty or

nolo contendere to any crime related to his or her public office or public employment, the

retirement board, if no finding is made by the judge in the criminal action pursuant to section 11-

41-31, shall:

      (1) Initiate a civil action in the superior court for the revocation or reduction of any

retirement or other benefit or payment to which the public official or public employee is

otherwise entitled under this title, under title 16, under title 45, under title 8, under chapter 30 of

title 28, under chapter 43 of title 31, or under chapter 28 of title 42.

      (2) The superior court shall order the public official or employee to appear and show

cause as to why any retirement or other benefit or payment to which the public official or public

employee is otherwise entitled under this title, under title 16, under title 45, under title 8, under

chapter 30 of title 28, under chapter 43 of title 31, or under chapter 28 of title 42 should not be

withheld pending adjudication of the civil action in the superior court.

      (3) Legal standing is hereby conferred upon the retirement board to initiate and maintain

a civil action, and jurisdiction over that civil action is hereby conferred upon the superior court.

      (c) (1) In any civil action under this chapter for the revocation or reduction of retirement

or other benefits or payments, the superior court shall determine:

      (i) Whether the public employee has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere

to any crime related to his or her public office or public employment and, if so;

      (ii) Whether the retirement or other benefits or payments to which the public official or

public employee is otherwise entitled should be revoked or diminished and, if so;

      (iii) In what amount or by what proportion such revocation or reduction should be

ordered.

      (2) In rendering its decision hereunder, the superior court shall consider and address each

of the following factors:

      (i) The fact that the allowance of retirement or other benefits or payments for service

under this title, under title 16, under title 45, under title 8, under chapter 30 of title 28, under

chapter 43 of title 31, and under chapter 28 of title 42 presumes and requires that the service shall

have been honorably rendered;

      (ii) The severity of the crime related to public office or public employment of which the

public official or public employee has been convicted or to which the public official or public

employee has pled guilty or nolo contendere;

      (iii) The amount of monetary loss suffered by the public official's or public employee's

employer or by any other person as a result of the subject crime related to public office or public

employment;

      (iv) The degree of public trust reposed in the subject public official or public employee

by virtue of his or her public office or public employment; and

      (v) Any such other factors as, in the judgment of the superior court, justice may require.

      (d) If the superior court determines that the retirement or other benefits or payments of a

public official or public employee should be revoked or reduced under this chapter, it may, in its

discretion and after taking into consideration the financial needs and resources of any innocent

spouse or domestic partner, dependents and/or designated beneficiaries of the public official or

public employee, order that some or all of the revoked or reduced benefits or payments be paid to

any innocent spouse or domestic partner, dependent or beneficiary as justice may require.

      (e) If the superior court determines that the retirement or other benefits or payments of a

public official or public employee should not be revoked or reduced under this chapter, it shall

order that the retirement or other benefits or payments be made to the public official or public

employee as if the initiation of the civil action had not occurred.

 

     SECTION 14. Section 42-28-21 of the General Laws in Chapter 42-28 entitled "State

Police" is hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     42-28-21. Injury and death benefits. -- (a) If any member of the division whose service

is terminated on or after January 1, 1960 shall have in the course of performance of his or her

duties suffered injury causing disability or causing death, that member or his or her surviving

dependent relatives, whose dependence shall be determined from time to time by the

superintendent subject to confirmation by the governor, shall be entitled to an annual pension of

seventy-five percent (75%) of the annual salary paid to that member at the time of his or her

termination of service by reason of injury or death. In the event that the member thus disabled or

killed in the performance of his or her official duties is the superintendent, then confirmation and

determination provided by this section shall be made by the governor. The provisions of chapters

29 -- 38, inclusive, of title 28, shall not apply to members of the division.

      (b) Upon the death of a member due to any cause other than that incurred while in the

course of performance of his or her duties, occurring while in service or after retirement, if that

member shall have rendered at least ten (10) years of service as a member of the Rhode Island

state police, his or her surviving widow or domestic partner shall be entitled to a widow's pension

equal to two percent (2%) of his or her last annual salary as determined by the provision of

section 42-28-22 as amended herein for each year of service as a member of the state police,

subject to a minimum pension of twenty-five percent (25%) of salary, and subject to the

following conditions:

      (1) The widow or widower or domestic partner shall have been married to or a domestic

partner of the member at least one year on the date of death of the member or on the date of

retirement, whichever first occurs, and in any event while the member was in active service; (2)

the widow shall be at least forty (40) years of age, otherwise payment of the annuity shall be

deferred until she attains such age; (3) the annuity shall terminate in any event when the widow

he or she remarries or enters into a domestic partnership or dies.

      (c) If a widow or widower or domestic partner shall have minor children in his or her

care, payment of the widow's annuity shall commence immediately regardless of whether the

widow or widower or domestic partner shall have attained age forty (40) years or not. In such a

case, the payment to the widow or widower or domestic partner shall be increased one-third (1/3)

on account of each minor child, provided that the maximum payment shall be fifty percent (50%)

of annual salary.

      (d) Allowances on account of minor children shall terminate upon their attainment of age

eighteen (18) and if unemancipated and a full time student to age twenty-two (22) years, death, or

marriage, whichever first occurs. In the event a widow or widower or domestic partner remarries

or enters into a domestic partnership or dies, payment on account of minor children shall be

increased to twice the amounts previously payable on account of the children, subject to a

combined payment to all children equal to fifty percent (50%) of the final salary of the member.

     (e) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who,

prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the

decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     SECTION 15. Sections 45-19-4, 45-19-7, 45-19-8, 45-19-12, 45-19-12.2, 45-19-14 and

45-19-15 of the General Laws in Chapter 45-19 entitled "Relief of Injured and Deceased Fire

Fighters and Police Officers" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     45-19-4. Annuities to dependents of deceased police officers and appropriations to

nondependent parents of police officers. -- (a) If an active or retired member of the police force

of a city or town is killed or dies from injuries received while in the performance of his or her

duty as a member, or dies of a heart condition or any condition derived from hypertension while

still a member, there shall be paid out of the police officer's relief fund of Rhode Island to the

following dependents of the deceased person, the following sums of money:

      (1) To the widow or widower or domestic partner an annuity not exceeding three

thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) a year, payable in the number of regular installments

determined by the board and continuing as long as he or she remains unmarried or not in a

domestic partnership and commencing with the date of death but not more than six (6) months

prior to the date of filing of the petition by the widow or widower or domestic partner; provided,

that if the member died more than six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition then the

payments are to commence no sooner than six (6) months prior to the date of petition;

      (2) An additional annuity of twelve hundred dollars ($1,200) a year, payable in the

number of regular installments determined by the board, for each child of the deceased person

during the time that the child is under the age of eighteen (18) years, or over the age and

physically or mentally incapacitated from earning. If there is any child and no widow or widower

or domestic partner or the widow or widower or domestic partner dies later, the sum and the

annuity that would have been payable to the widow or widower or domestic partner had there

been one or had he or she lived, to or for the benefit of the child or of the children, in equal

shares, during the time previously stated;

      (3) If there is any child and the widow or widower or domestic partner remarries or

enters in a domestic partnership, in lieu of the previously stated annuity to him or her, an annuity

not exceeding twelve hundred dollars ($1,200) to or for the benefit of each child during the time

previously stated;

      (4) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner and no child the total sum of ten

thousand dollars ($10,000) payable in a lump sum for the benefit of the father and/or mother of

the deceased, if not dependent upon him or her for support at the time of his or her death; and

      (5) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner and no child, the sum of three

thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) payable in regular installments by the board of police

officer's relief to or for the benefit of the father or mother of the deceased, if dependent upon him

or her for support at the time of his or her death, and commencing with the date of death but not

more than six (6) months prior to the date of filing the petition; provided, that if the member died

more than six (6) months prior to the filing of the petition then the payments are to commence no

sooner than six (6) months prior to the date of the petition and continuing so long as the

beneficiary is unable to support himself or herself and does not remarry or enter into a domestic

partnership, an annuity not exceeding three thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) a year, payable

in regular installments determined by the board. The amount of the annuity shall, from time to

time, be determined within the limits previously stated by the board.

      (b) For the purpose of this section the words "police officer" mean and include any

active or retired member of the state police or the police of any city or town regularly employed

at a fixed salary or wage.

      (c) The provisions of this section apply in the case of any dependent receiving benefits in

accordance with the provisions of this section as it was in effect prior to April 25, 1960.

      (d) The provisions of this section apply in the case of any active or retired police officer

who from and after January 1, 1935, was killed or died from injuries received while in the

performance of duty, or dies of a heart condition or any condition derived from hypertension.

      (e) The amount of the annuity shall not be reduced by reason of receipt of an annuity

and/or other payments to any beneficiaries from any other source.

      (f) Upon the death of a member, the police chief shall immediately notify the widow or

widower or domestic partner of the member by registered or certified mail, return receipt

requested, of the widow or widower's or domestic partner's possible eligibility for benefits under

this chapter and the time restriction for filing a claim for these benefits.

     (g) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who,

prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the

decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

     (1) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (2) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (3) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (4) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (5) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (i) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (ii) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (iii) two (2) of: (A) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (B) joint checking account; (C)

joint credit account; (D) joint lease; and/or

     (iv) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     45-19-7. Appropriations for relief of fire fighters and dependents. -- The general

assembly shall annually appropriate any sum that it deems necessary for the relief of any fire

fighter and for the relief of the widow or widower or domestic partner and children of any fire

fighter killed in the performance of his or her duty. The controller, upon the receipt of proper

vouchers approved by the director of labor and training or the director's authorized agent, is

hereby authorized and directed to draw his or her orders upon the general treasurer for the

payment of the sum or sums that may be required from time to time.

 

     45-19-8. Administration of fire fighter's relief. -- The fund shall be used for the relief

of fire fighters, injured in the performance of their duty at a fire or in going to or returning from

the fire, and for the relief of the widows, widowers, or domestic partners and children of fire

fighters killed in the performance of their duty, in the manner and to the amount determined by

the board of fire fighter's relief in the department of labor and training, which board shall

administer the fund for the relief of fire fighters as provided in this chapter.

 

     45-19-12. Annuities to dependents of deceased fire fighters and appropriations to

nondependent parents of deceased fire fighters. -- (a) If an active or retired member of the fire

force of a city or town or fire fighter for the town of North Smithfield is killed or dies from

injuries received while in the performance of his or her duty as a member or dies of a heart

condition, respiratory ailments, or any condition derived from hypertension while still a member,

there shall be paid out of the fire fighter's relief fund of Rhode Island to the following dependents

of the deceased person, the following sums of money:

      (1) To the widow or widower or domestic partner an annuity not exceeding three

thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) a year, payable in the number of regular installments

determined by the board and continuing as long as he or she remains unmarried or not in a

domestic partnership and commencing with the date of death but not more than six (6) months

prior to the date of filing of the petition by the widow or widower or domestic partner;

      (2) An additional annuity of one thousand two hundred dollars ($1,200) a year, payable

in the number of regular installments determined by the board, for each child of the deceased

person during the time that the child is under the age of eighteen (18) years, or over the age and

physically or mentally incapacitated from earning;

      (3) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner and no child, the total sum of ten

thousand dollars ($10,000), payable in a lump sum for the benefit of the father and/or mother of

the deceased, if not dependent upon him or her for support at the time of his or her death;

      (4) If there is any child and no widow or widower or domestic partner or the widow or

widower or domestic partner dies later, the sum and the annuity that should have been payable to

the widow or widower or domestic partner had there been one or had he or she lived, to or for the

benefit of the child or of the children, in equal shares during the previously stated time;

      (5) If there is any child, and the widow or widower or domestic partner remarries or

enters into a domestic partnership, in lieu of the previously stated annuity to him or her, an

annuity not exceeding one thousand two hundred dollars ($1,200) to or for the benefit of each

child during the time previously stated; and

      (6) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner and no child, the sum of three

thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) payable in regular installments by the board of fire fighter's

relief, to or for the benefit of the father or mother of the deceased, if dependent upon him or her

for support at the time of his or her death, and commencing with the date of death but not more

than six (6) months prior to the date of filing of the petition and continuing so long as the

beneficiary is unable to support himself or herself and does not remarry or enter into a domestic

partnership, an annuity not exceeding three thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) a year, payable

in the number of regular installments determined by the board.

      (b) The amount of the annuity shall, from time to time, be determined within the limits

previously stated by the board.

      (c) The provisions of this section shall in the case of any active or retired member of the

fire force of any city or town or fire fighter for the town of North Smithfield who, from and after

January 1, 1935, is killed or dies from injuries received while in the performance of his or her

duty, or dies of a heart condition, respiratory ailments, or any condition derived from

hypertension. The provisions of this section shall only be construed to apply prospectively.

      (d) The amount of the annuity shall not be reduced by reason of receipt of any annuity

and/or other payments to any beneficiary from any other source.

      (e) Upon the death of a member, the fire chief shall immediately notify the widow or

widower or domestic partner of the member, in writing, by registered or certified mail, return

receipt requested, of the widow or widower's or domestic partner's possible eligibility for benefits

under this chapter and the time restriction for filing a claim for the benefits.

 

     45-19-12.2. Annuities to dependents of deceased auxiliary and volunteer fire fighters

and appropriations to nondependent parents of deceased auxiliary and volunteer fire

fighters. -- (a) If an active member of a volunteer or auxiliary fire force or volunteer crash rescue

or ambulance corps is killed or dies from injuries received while in the performance of his or her

duty there, shall be paid out of the fire fighter's relief fund of Rhode Island to the following

dependents of the deceased person, the following sums of money:

      (1) To the widow or widower or domestic partner beginning at the death, an annuity not

exceeding three thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) a year, payable in regular installments as

may be determined by the board and continuing as long as he or she remains unmarried or not in

a domestic partnership;

      (2) An additional annuity of one thousand two hundred dollars ($1,200) a year, payable

in regular installments determined by the board, for each child of the deceased person during the

time that the child is under the age of eighteen (18) years, or over that age and physically or

mentally incapacitated from earning;

      (3) If there is any child and no widow or widower or domestic partner or the widow or

widower or domestic partner dies later, the sum and annuity that should have been payable to the

widow or widower or domestic partner had there been one or had he or she lived, to or for the

benefit of the child or of the children, in equal shares during the previously stated time;

      (4) If there is any child and the widow or widower or domestic partner remarries or

enters into a domestic partnership, in lieu of the previously stated annuity to him or her, an

annuity not exceeding one thousand two hundred dollars ($1,200) to or for the benefit of each

child during the previously stated time;

      (5) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner and no child, the total sum of ten

thousand dollars ($10,000) payable in a lump for the benefit of the father and/or mother of the

deceased, if not dependent upon him or her for support at the time of his or her death; and

      (6) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner and no child, the sum of three

thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) payable in regular installments by the board of fire fighter's

relief, to or for the benefit of the father or mother of the deceased, if dependent upon him or her

for support at the time of his or her death, and beginning at the death and continuing so long as

the beneficiary is unable to support himself or herself and does not remarry or enter into a

domestic partnership, an annuity not exceeding three thousand six hundred dollars ($3,600) a

year, payable in regular installments determined by the board.

      (b) The provisions of this section shall be retroactive to July 1, 1988.

 

     45-19-14. Appropriations by towns to dependents of deceased police officers and fire

fighters. -- The several cities and towns are authorized and empowered to make a special

appropriation to surviving widows or widowers or domestic partners, or other surviving

dependents, of a deceased fire fighter or police officer who has been in the service of a city or

town for a period of at least two (2) years and has lost his or her life, or received injuries resulting

in permanent disability, or incurred illness resulting in death, while in the line of duty as a fire

fighter or police officer. This appropriation may be in addition to any service pension granted to

the widows or widowers or domestic partners of any fire fighters or police officers under the

provisions of any law or any ordinance of any city or town; provided, that the appropriation does

not exceed the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for any one person.

 

     45-19-15. Extension of provisions to widows or widowers of other deceased police

officers and fire fighters Extension of provisions to widows or widowers or domestic

partners of other deceased police officers and fire fighters. -- The legislative body of any city

or town may, by ordinance, provide that the provisions of sections 45-19-4 and 45-19-12 apply in

the case of any unremarried widow or widower or domestic partner, of any police officer or fire

fighter which police officer or fire fighter died while in service or was retired from the police or

fire force of a city or town on pensions prior to his or her death. The annuities shall be paid to the

widow or widower or domestic partner by the proper authority of the city or town in which the

police officer or fire fighter was employed at the time of his or her retirement.

 

     SECTION 16. Sections 45-21-2, 45-21-25, 45-21-30, 45-21-51 and 45-21-51.1 of the

General Laws in Chapter 45-21 entitled "Retirement of Municipal Employees" are hereby

amended to read as follows:

 

     45-21-2. Definitions. -- The following words and phrases as used in this chapter have the

following meanings unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context:

      (1) "Accumulated contributions" means the sum of all amounts deducted from the

compensation of a member and credited to his or her individual account in the members'

contribution reserve account.

      (2) "Actuarial reserve" means the present value of all payments to be made on account of

any annuity, retirement allowance, or benefit, computed upon the basis of mortality tables

adopted by the retirement board with regular interest.

      (3) "Beneficiary" means any person in receipt of a retirement allowance, annuity, or

other benefit as provided by this chapter.

      (4) "Effective date of participation" means the date on which the provisions of this

chapter have become applicable to a municipality accepting the provisions of the chapter in the

manner stated in section 45-21-4.

      (5) "Employee" means any regular and permanent employee or officer of any

municipality, whose business time at a minimum of twenty (20) hours a week is devoted to the

service of the municipality, including elective officials and officials and employees of city and

town housing authorities. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, the term "employee", for the

purposes of this chapter, does not include any person whose duties are of a casual or seasonal

nature. The retirement board shall decide who are employees within the meaning of this chapter,

but in no case shall it deem as an employee any individual who annually devotes less than twenty

(20) business hours per week to the service of the municipality and who receives less than the

equivalent of minimum wage compensation on an hourly basis for his or her services, except as

provided in section 45-21-14.1. Casual employees mean those persons hired for an occasional

period to perform special jobs or functions not necessarily related to the work of regular

employees. Any commissioner of a municipal housing authority, or any member of a part-time

state board commission, committee or other authority is not deemed to be an employee within the

meaning of this chapter.

      (6) "Final compensation" means the average annual compensation, pay, or salary of a

member for services rendered during the period of three (3) consecutive years within the total

service of the member when the average was highest, and as the term average annual

compensation is further defined in section 36-8-1(4).

      (7) "Fiscal year" means the period beginning on July 1 in any year and ending on June

30 of the next succeeding year.

      (8) "Full actuarial costs" or "full actuarial value" mean the lump sum payable by a

member claiming service credit for certain employment for which payment is required, which is

determined according to the age of the member and his or her annual rate of compensation at the

time he or she applies for service credit, and which is expressed as a rate percent of the annual

rate of compensation to be multiplied by the number of years for which he or she claims the

service credit, as prescribed in a schedule adopted by the retirement board, from time to time, on

the basis of computation by the actuary.

      (9) "Governing body" means any and all bodies empowered to appropriate monies for,

and administer the operation of, the units as defined in subdivision (1) of this section.

      (10) "Member" means any person included in the membership of the retirement system

as provided in section 45-21-8.

      (11) "Municipality" means any town or city in the state of Rhode Island, any city or town

housing authority, fire, water, sewer district, regional school district, public building authority as

established by chapter 14 of title 37, or any other municipal financed agency to which the

retirement board has approved admission in the retirement system.

      (12) "Participating municipality" means any municipality which has accepted this

chapter, as provided in section 45-21-4.

      (13) "Prior service" means service as a member rendered before the effective date of

participation as defined in this section, certified on his or her prior service certificate, and

allowable as provided in section 45-21-15.

      (14) "Regular interest" means interest compounded annually as determined by the

retirement board based upon the experience of the system.

      (15) "Retirement allowance" or "annuity" means the amounts paid to any member of the

municipal employees' retirement system of the state of Rhode Island, or a survivor of the

member, as provided in this chapter. All retirement allowances or annuities shall be paid in equal

monthly installments for life, unless otherwise specifically provided.

      (16) "Retirement board" means the state retirement board created by chapter 8 of title 36.

      (17) "Retirement system" means the "municipal employees' retirement system of the

state of Rhode Island" as defined in section 45-21-32.

      (18) "Service" means service as an employee of a municipality of the state of Rhode

Island as defined in subdivision (5).

      (19) "Total service" means prior service as defined in subsection (13) plus service

rendered as a member on or after the effective date of participation.

      (20) "Active member" means any employee of a participating municipality as defined in

this section for whom the retirement system is currently receiving regular contributions pursuant

to sections 45-21-41, 45-21-41.1 or 45-21.2-14.

     (21) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who,

prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the

decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:

     (i) both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to

contract;

     (ii) neither partner was married to anyone else;

     (iii) partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the

state of Rhode Island;

     (iv) partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of

death; and

     (v) partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the

following:

     (A) domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;

     (B) joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;

     (C) two (2) of: (I) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (II) joint checking account; (III) joint

credit account; (IV) joint lease; and/or

     (D) the domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will,

retirement contract or life insurance.

 

     45-21-25. Accidental death benefits. -- Upon the accidental death of a member before

retirement; provided, that evidence is submitted to the retirement board proving that the death of

the member was the natural and proximate result of an accident while in the performance of duty

at some definite time and place, and that the death was not the result of willful negligence on the

member's part, the member's accumulated contributions shall be paid to the member's estate, or to

the person having an insurable interest in the member's life that the member has nominated by

written designation, duly executed and filed with the retirement board, and, upon application by

or on behalf of the dependents of the deceased member, the retirement board shall grant a benefit

equal to one-half ( 1/2) the rate of compensation of the member in effect at the date of death:

      (1) To his or her widow or widower or domestic partner, to continue for life unless he or

she remarries or enters into a domestic partnership; or

      (2) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner, or if the widow or widower or

domestic partner dies or remarries or enters into a domestic partnership before any child of the

deceased member has attained the age of eighteen (18) years, then to his or her child or children

under that age, divided in any manner that the retirement board in its discretion determines, to

continue as a joint and survivor annuity of one-half ( 1/2) of that compensation until every child

dies or attains that age; or

      (3) If there is no widow, widower, or domestic partner or child under the age of eighteen

(18) years surviving the deceased member, then to his or her dependent father or mother, as the

deceased member has nominated by written designation, duly acknowledged and filed with the

retirement board; or if there is no nomination, then to his or her dependent father or to his or her

dependent mother, as the retirement board in its discretion directs, to continue for life.

 

     45-21-30. Optional benefits on service retirement. -- (a) A beneficiary, or, if the

beneficiary is an incompetent, then his or her spouse or domestic partner, or if he or she has no

spouse or domestic partner, a guardian of the beneficiary's estate, may elect to receive a benefit in

a retirement allowance, payable throughout life, or the beneficiary may then elect to receive the

actuarial equivalent, at that time, of the beneficiary's retirement allowance in a lesser retirement

allowance as determined by actuarial calculation, which shall be payable throughout life with the

provision that:

      (1) Option 1. - A reduced retirement allowance payable during the beneficiary's life, with

the provisions that after the beneficiary's death, it shall continue during the life of and be paid to

the person that the beneficiary has nominated by written designation duly acknowledged and filed

with the retirement board at the time of retirement; or

      (2) Option 2. - A reduced retirement allowance payable during the beneficiary's life, with

the provision that after the beneficiary's death an allowance equal to one-half ( 1/2) of the

beneficiary's reduced allowance shall continue during the life of and be paid to the person that the

beneficiary has nominated by written designation duly acknowledged and filed with the board at

the time of retirement.

      (b) This section does not apply to any person who elects the social security supplemental

option related in section 45-21-17.2.

      (c) This section is exempt from the provisions of sections 45-13-6 -- 45-13-10.

 

     45-21-51. Persons eligible for optional benefits -- Time of election -- Modification or

revocation -- Effective date. -- (a) The optional provisions of section 45-21-30 are applicable

only to a member applying for a service retirement allowance and an accidental disability

retirement allowance and an ordinary disability retirement allowance or any inactive member

applying for retirement under vested rights. The election under option 1 or 2 is made at the time

of retirement of the member as part of his or her application for a retirement allowance. The

election is based upon the amount of retirement allowances that may accrue at the date of death of

the member, and may be revoked or modified by the member at any time after retirement on a

form prescribed by the retirement board, provided that during this time, the named beneficiary

has not been divorced from the member or entered into a domestic partnership. The option in the

case of death of a retired member becomes effective on the next day following the death of the

member and payment of benefits made in accordance with the provisions of this section, subject

to the limitations prescribed in section 45-21-30; provided, further, that this section does not

apply to anyone who elects the social security supplemental option as provided by section 45-21-

17.2.

      (b) This section is exempt from the provisions of sections 45-13-6 -- 45-13-10.

 

     45-21-51.1. Optional annuity protection -- Election of option by member. -- (a) Upon

death of a member having at least ten (10) years of membership service, the spouse or domestic

partner of the member has the option to elect to receive option one as provided in section 45-21-

30 in lieu of a return of contributions, provided the spouse or domestic partner is the designated

beneficiary of the member's retirement account. The election is based upon the amount of

retirement allowance or actuarial equivalent that may accrue at the date of death of the member.

      (b) The election under option one for a person other than the spouse of the member may

be made by the member, while in service; provided, that the member has at least ten (10) years of

membership service and before retirement, on a form prescribed by the retirement board. The

election is based upon the amount of retirement allowances or actuarial equivalents that may

accrue at the date of death of the member; provided, that the election form is executed and filed

with the retirement board prior to the date of death. The election may be revoked or modified by

the member at any time prior to the date of retirement, on a form prescribed by the retirement

board.

      (c) Upon the death of a member, the option becomes effective thirty (30) days after the

first day of the next calendar month following the date of death of the member if death occurs

while in an employee status. Should death occur while in an inactive member status, the option

under this section becomes payable on the first day of the next succeeding month that in which

the designated beneficiary attains the age of sixty (60) years.

 

     SECTION 17. Section 45-21.1-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 45-21.1 entitled

"Municipal Fire Fighters' Pensions" is hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     45-21.1-1. Benefits. (a) Whenever, under any general law or special act, any town or

city has established a pension system for the fire fighters of the town or city, funded in whole or

in part by contributions from those fire fighters, then upon the death of a fire fighter, whether

before or after his or her retirement, there is due from the fire fighter's pension fund of the town

or city to the person or persons as he or she has nominated by written designation, and, if no

designation was made, to the widow or widower or domestic partner of the fire fighter, if any, an

amount equal to the total contributions made to the pension fund by the deceased fire fighter less

any benefits received by the fire fighter from the fund. If there is no designation and no widow or

widower or domestic partner surviving the fire fighter, payments under the provisions of this

section are paid to the estate of the deceased fire fighter in an amount equal to the total

contributions made to the pension fund by the deceased fire fighter less any benefits received by

the fire fighter from the fund; provided, that if the amount due to the estate of a deceased fire

fighter under the provisions of this section is one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less, then, in lieu of

making the payment due under the provisions of this section to the estate, the payment may be

made to the widow or widower or domestic partner (for his or her sole use) of the deceased fire

fighter; and provided, further, that this section does not apply in the case of any pension fund

which provides benefits for the dependents or survivors of a deceased fire fighter.

     (b) The term "domestic partner" shall have the same meaning as that provided for in

section 45-21-2.

 

     SECTION 18. Sections 45-21.2-11 and 45-21.2-12 of the General Laws in Chapter 45-

21.2 entitled "Optional Retirement for Members of Police Force and Fire Fighters" are hereby

amended to read as follows:

 

     45-21.2-11. Accidental death benefits. -- Upon the accidental death of a member before

retirement; provided, that evidence shall be submitted to the retirement board proving that the

death of the member was a natural and proximate result of an accident while in the performance

of duty at some definite time and place, and that the death was not the result of willful negligence

on the member's part, that member's accumulated contribution shall be paid to that member's

estate, or to the person having an insurable interest in the member's life as the member nominated

by written designation, duly executed and filed with the retirement board, and upon application

by or on behalf of the dependents of the deceased member, the retirement board shall grant a

benefit equal to one-half ( 1/2) of the rate of compensation of the member in effect at the date of

death:

      (1) To his or her widow or widower or domestic partner to continue for life unless he or

she remarries or enters into a domestic partnership, together with an amount equal to ten percent

(10%) of the rate of compensation for each child of the member under the age of eighteen (18),

subject to a total family benefit of sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of salary; or

      (2) If there is no widow or widower or domestic partner or if the widow or widower or

domestic partner dies or remarries or enters into a domestic partnership before any child of the

deceased member has attained the age of eighteen (18), then to the member's child or children

under that age, a benefit for each of fifteen percent (15%) of the rate of compensation of the

member subject to a total family benefit of fifty percent (50%) of salary.

 

     45-21.2-12. Ordinary death benefit. -- Upon death of a member occurring while in

service and prior to retirement from any cause other than accidental death arising directly out of

and in the course of employment, a payment shall be made consisting of:

      (1) The sum of eight hundred dollars ($800) for each year of service subject to a

minimum payment of four thousand dollars ($4,000) and a maximum payment of sixteen

thousand dollars ($16,000); and

      (2) An annuity to his or her widow or widower or domestic partner to continue for life

unless he or she remarries or enters into a domestic partnership equal to thirty percent (30%) of

the rate of compensation plus an allowance of ten percent (10%) of the compensation on account

of each child of the member under age eighteen (18), subject to a total family benefit of fifty

percent (50%) of final compensation; or if there is no widow or widower or domestic partner, or

if the widow or widower or domestic partner dies or remarries or enters into a domestic

partnership before any child of the deceased member has attained the age of eighteen (18) years,

then an annuity with respect to each child of fifteen percent (15%) of the member's final

compensation subject to a maximum family benefit of fifty percent (50%) of final compensation.

      (3) The benefit under subsection (2) of this section is not payable if the member elected

the provisions of section 45-21.2-21.

 

     SECTION 19. This act shall take effect upon passage.

     

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LC02036

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