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Senate showdown expected on pension bills during debate today

The legislative showdown over state and local government worker retirement continues today as lawmakers propose a series of amendments during the debate on the Senate budget today to soften the blow of the pension reform bill on low income workers.

In one amendment, 10 Republicans have sided with Democrats to soften the blow of the bill pushed by Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales. The coalition includes 11 Democrats joined by Republican Senators Jack Latvala, Dennis Jones, Nancy Detert, Rene Garcia, Jim Norman, Greg Evers and Mike Fasano.

Their amendment removes the requirement that all new hires except special risk employees such as police and firefighters would have to be enrolled in the 401k-style defined contribution plan. Instead, they propose making that requirement compulsory  only for elected officials, senior managment and anyone making more than $75,000. The amendment restores the compromise language voted out of the Senate's Governmental Oversight Committee two weeks ago but which was scrapped by Alexander.