The OPRI Board met on Monday to plan strategy for the upcoming Legislative session. OPRI is the only organization that directly represents PERS retirees. They have read through the 23 bills currently proposed and have categorized them into one of three groups: group 1 is a "fight to the death" group - these are bills that directly affect retirees and will mean less money for them either immediately or in the future: OPRI will fight all the bills proposing to make any changes to the retiree COLA (HB 2456 and HB 2991), as well as bills that reduce the COLA, or bills that propose to kill the income tax subsidy for out-of-state retirees (HB 2115, HB 2444, HB 2445, HB 2450, and HB 2453).
OPRI is also planning to provide support to the PERS Coalition in its effort to defeat the following bills: HB 2161, HB 2436, HB 2447, HB 2454, HB 2455, HB 2984, HB 2985, HB 2986, HB 2990, and HB 2996. These bills will be a level 2 priority for OPRI. These bills do not directly affect existing retirees, but will affect members planning to retire in the very near future. These include bills to eliminate the 6% pickup, to cap the pension to no more than 100% of FAS, and several bills that redefine how FAS is computed.
OPRI will merely watch SB 34, HB 2113, HB 2114, HB 2343, HB 2505, and HB 2814. You can read about any of the bills mentioned above at the Oregon Legislature's web site. The site tracks the bills as the go through the committee process and is documented carefully. Also be aware that the Legislature offers audio for hearings that you might be interested in listening to. The correct internet protocol will be put on the Legislature's web site after February 1, when the Legislature reconvenes.
OPRI has bitten off a great deal in this legislative session - an indication of how important these bills are to its members. If you are not a member of OPRI, please consider joining. Dues are inexpensive $10 per year or $75 (?$100) for a lifetime membership. You can find out about joining at OPRI's http://opri.org. In addition, OPRI has two funds that it welcomes contributions for. You may contribute to the OPR PAC, a political action committee that is responsible for funding all the legislative lobbying you will see in full force this year. Lobbying is expensive and OPRI can use any help it can get. Donations to the PAC are tax deductible ($50 for individuals; $100 joint). OPRI also has a legal defense fund. While there are legal cases in which OPRI is currently participating, this session is bound to produce some clinkers that will require Legislation.
You would do yourself and all your fellow retirees a great service if you would join OPRI and help it in its fight to keep these onerous bills from passing. You don't even need to be a retiree to join. OPRI welcomes members from all classes of public employees - active, inactive, and retired. You will get more than your money's worth from membership (including a newsletter), and a contribution to the PAC.