Judge Denies Houston Firefighters’ Request for Injunction - Texas Scorecard

Houston firefighters had a setback today as they were denied their petition for a temporary block of SB 2190 – Houston’s pension reform bill – ahead of Saturday’s implementation.

“The court finds that Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund has failed to satisfy its burden necessary for injunctive relief,” reads the ruling by Harris County Judge Kerrigan.

The ruling comes after the firefighters rallied this week announcing a different lawsuit against the city regarding pay and contract negotiations.

The pension reform suit was filed just after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the pension bill into law, to the ire of the fire union.

The suit claims that the bill usurps the union’s constitutional right to select an actuary and “adopt actuarial assumptions to be used by the system or program,” because the bill sets an assumed rate of return at 7 percent and allows the city and any of their actuaries to adjust future assumed rates of returns.

The suit further claims that, “SB 2190 also purports to require the Fund to take actions in accordance with its unconstitutional scheme even before it becomes effective (assuming that it does) on July 1, 2017.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an intervention yesterday on behalf of the state and in favor of the bill saying, “SB 2190 falls well within the Legislature’s authority to regulate in this area, and the State respectfully ask this Court to refrain from enjoining the law from taking effect.”

SB 2190, introduced by State Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place) had a long and contentious road through the legislature.

The firefighters and many conservatives opposed the bill throughout the session for different reasons. Many claimed it didn’t go far enough in reforming Houston’s pensions, but rather kicked the can down the road; others felt that the plan didn’t take many of the concerns of the union into consideration. Regardless, it passed and with a wide margin and will now go into effect on July 1.