The OPERS staff has prepared this summary of 2013 pension legislation for our members. The following is a description of new legislation affecting active and retired members of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). The implementation of the legislation may initiate new policies, rules, and procedures in the coming months.
HB 1325 (Rep. Randy McDaniel and Sen. Rick Brinkley)
Effective April 26, 2013
“Final Average Salary” expanded from three to five years for new members
Changes the definition of “Final Average Salary” for members who join on or after July 1, 2013. This is the salary number used in the final retirement benefit calculation. New OPERS members will have their salary averaged over the highest five of the last ten years instead of three years in current law.
Administrative changes for data reporting, probate waivers and death benefit payments
The bill requires participating employers to provide salary and other information for retiring members no later than the fifteen day of the month of retirement. This will help OPERS speed up the retirement process. The bill also increases the amount that OPERS can pay a deceased member’s heirs without requiring that the estate be probated. It also allows OPERS to pay the final benefit of a deceased member to the named beneficiary before paying the estate of the member.
HB 1477 (Rep. Kim David and Sen. Jason Murphy)
Effective November 1, 2013
OPERS Board makeup
Legislation last year inadvertently removed the Director of Human Capital Management of OMES (formerly the OPM Administrator) from the OPERS Board. This bill puts the Director of HCM back on the board, as well as allows the Corporation Commission member of the board to send a designee in his or her place.
SB 847 (Sen. Clark Jolley & Rep. Scott Martin)
Effective August 30, 2013
Pension Stabilization Revolving Fund
Under this bill, surplus funds over and above those going to the State’s “Rainy Day Fund” will go into a revolving fund. The Legislature may appropriate any such funds to pension systems with a funded ratio below 90%. Priority will be given to the lowest funded pension systems.
Other Legislative Proposals
There was much discussion of the idea of consolidating the administration of the state retirement systems, which included OPERS and plans for teachers, state law enforcement, and municipal police and firefighters. The discussion was about having a single governing board and a single, consolidated administrative staff for all state retirement plans. There was no discussion of literally combining the underlying funds. However, there was never a bill introduced or acted upon on this topic.
Another bill would have created an optional Defined Contribution plan for new OPERS members from and after July 1, 2014. The measure was HB 2077 that passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Fallin on May 13, 2013.