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Lawsuit Claims Houston’s Pension Law Unconstitutional

Houston’s firefighter pension board has sued the city of Houston over a law meant to solve the city’s pension problems.

The lawsuit claims the law passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday morning is unconstitutional.

Joe Gimenez, spokesman for the Houston Fire Fighters Relief and Retirement Fund, said SB 2190 gives discretion to the city when it comes to financial assumptions for firefighters’ pensions.

 “It therefore violates the Texas Constitution, or an article in the Constitution that was created in 1975 that gives the pension fund board the sole authority and discretion to do certain things,” he said.

The law is the culmination of a years-long effort by the city of Houston to address its pension liabilities. In the fall, all city pension boards – police, municipal and fire – agreed to a framework. But the fire pension board backed out before the final deal was introduced in the Legislature.

Mayor Sylvester Turner says the pension board is hurting the people it represents. The new law caps the fund’s administrative costs and Turner argues that fire fighters will have to tap into their benefits to pay for the litigation.

“So who’s paying for this lawsuit that at the end of the day is not going to be successful?” he said.

The fire pension board is asking the court to block the city from implementing provisions under the law before the city’s budget goes into effect on July 1.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter.Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club.Florian is a native of Germany. His studies in Leipzig...

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