There were a handful of bills passed during the 2010 legislative session that impacted OPERS and URSJJ members.
House Bill 2363 and Senate Bill 1442
These two companion bills implemented the statewide “Voluntary Buyout Offers” to state employees. Together they provide an incentive for eligible state employees to retire. With $22 million provided in SB 1442, agencies will be able to use these funds to pay retiring employees a $5,000 cash payment, the equivalent of their next longevity, and the cash equivalent of the cost of 18 months of health insurance for the member. The Governor signed HB 2363 April 28, 2010 and SB 1442 on April 29, 2010.
House Bill 3128
This bill permits OPERS' death benefit beneficiaries to assign the $5,000 retiree death benefit to funeral homes. The bill has a November 1, 2010 effective date.
Senate Bill 1579
This bill has several provisions. The bill takes OPERS and the Teachers Retirement System out of the Merit System prospectively. It also expands the service credit for furloughed state employees to include employees of the House, Senate and the court system. The Governor signed the bill into law on June 8, 2010.
Senate Bill 1580
This bill will keep state agency employer contributions at 15.5% for FY 2011 when existing law would have increased the rate to 16.5%. The 16.5% rate is not scheduled to begin until July 1, 2011. The Governor signed the bill with an emergency clause effective June 11, 2010.
Senate Bill 1889
This bill was OPERS’ request bill and contained the following changes:
It adds the word “retiree” to defined terms. Any time you see the words “retiree” or “retirant” in statute, they will mean the same thing.
The bill also lowers the number of retirement options for elected officials from 6 to 2. New elected officials will only be able to choose between a 1.9% retirement multiplier and a 4% multiplier.
A clarifying amendment was made to our “retiree return to work” statute. Now the one-year return to work limitation begins when a member leaves employment; not at retirement.
The bill also included several sections that affected the URSJJ.
Amendments eliminated a lot of old language that was necessary when the URSJJ was formed.
The retirement application procedure has changed. The applications are filed with the Court Administrator and the URSJJ without going through the Governor. The Court Administrator notifies the Governor instead.
Retired judges’ benefits will only be suspended if the judge goes back on the state bench. This amendment will permit retired judges to be appointed or elected to various positions, or simply be employed, without losing their pensions.
Another amendment removes the power of the OPERS Board of Trustees to raise or change contribution rates. The statutory contribution rates will remain. The Board must update state leaders about the actuarial condition of the URSJJ which it already does in practice. The Governor signed the bill with an emergency clause on June 10, 2010.