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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Street Fighting Men

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.


Morrie said...

It should be noted that a donation to OPRI is not only tax deductible, but Oregon offers a tax credit up to $100. That makes it a free donation.

MollyNCharlie said...

If one is already a OPRI Lifetime member, as I am; consider gifting a membership to friends/family who qualify. I have a sister who is an inactive PERS member living out of state with 2 years to go before she can start collecting her benefits. I did this for her to help her stay in touch with this part of her retirement planing. In past years I have considered an OPRI membership to be a fine retirement gift for any public employee.


Sundog said...

From a life member.

I am I missing something?

In 1997, HB 3349 provided for a tax subsidy to account for OREGON state income tax on PERS benefits required because of a Supreme Court decision regarding equal treatment. I don't think that bill and the arguments behind it ever intended for the tax subsidy to be used to pay taxes in other states or for those who live in non-income tax states, to be given a bonus benefit. So WHY does OPRI believe that any bill to "kill the income tax subsidy for out-of-state retirees" to be a "fight to the death" bill?

mrfearless47 said...

Sundog: the time for that question to have raised was in 1995 when the house was debating hb 3349. The issue did arise and both Pers and the Oregon department of revenue argued that it was virtually impossible to enforce residency in real time and that even to do it once per year would require an enforcement division that either needed to be larger (ODOR) or created from whole cloth (PERS). The enforcement expenses were deemed too costly and the residency provision was dropped from the bill. Since that time, the adjustment has come to be viewed as a part of the whole PERS package and legally unassailable. OPRI. Was an original litigant in the Hughes case and they consider the tax subsidy as part of their organizational DNA. OPRI will fight anything that reduces the benefit of retirees. While I am agnostic on the tax subsidy, the fact remains that it won't recover much money since enforcements costs are high and difficult to manage..

Jean said...

Some of the house bills say something about Emergency bill, to be enacted immediately upon completion...how fast could those be enacted? Does the senate still have to pass them? Does the governor still have to sign them?

mrfearless47 said...

The emergency clause only adds that the bill will take effect on passage and signature by the Governor. They don't get a free pass from the normal hearing process.

denise said...

I thought Tier 1 employees had an agreement for retirement benefits can they just change that or are the changes just for new hires when they retire? If I have 240K today how could they give me less based on the 1.5% plus years in service for the benefit? If you work out my actuarial they would be taking back some of my money I already have. Dee