A state Senate panel advanced legislation Sunday afternoon making it more difficult for legislators to increase public retirement benefits from their elected services.

The Louisiana Constitution already bars “part-time” elected or appointed officials from being a member of a public pension plan unless they were serving in the post on Jan. 1, 1997.

House Bill 377 would stop lawmakers who are members of a retirement system by virtue of public sector jobs from using their legislative service to increase pension benefits.

The proposed law, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, would not cover current lawmakers. It would only apply after June 30.

The bill would also reduce the rate at which retirement benefits could accrue for those lawmakers who were not impacted by the constitutional ban and who may run and win a legislative seat in the future.

The Senate Retirement Committee sent the bill to the Senate floor for further action.

Senate approves bill allowing early parole

A proposal to make non-violent, non-sex offenders eligible for parole after serving fewer years of their sentences received final passage with a 36-0 vote of the Senate.

State prisoners can earn “good time” credit by complying with rules and joining programs to reduce the likelihood they’ll return to prison. Credits allow the offenders to serve the time they earn under parole supervision, rather than in prison. But there are multiple state provisions on “good time,” making it difficult to determine what percentage of a sentence must be served.

House Bill 414 by state Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, would consolidate and simplify the law on earned credits. The Louisiana Sentencing Commission estimates the bill would cut more than $4 million in the first year of implementation.