What a strange trip this past week has been. I suppose I owe OPRI an apology for the drubbing I gave them on Friday following the hearings on the PERS bills in the House Business and Labor Committee - specifically, HB 2456. I fell into a semantic cesspool with Mike Schaufler's chief of staff over the fate of HB 2456. I had written to Representative Schaufler, as I had done with all of the members of that committee earlier the previous week about the fate of HB 2456. I had made some suggestions about the bill, concluding with the assertion that the bill generates so little cash that it hardly seemed worthwhile given the amount of ill-will and litigation that might result. On Tuesday, April 5, I received an email from Representative Schaufler's Chief of State telling me, in effect, that HB 2456 was not likely to move forward to a work session. That was true, but exceedingly misleading. After perusing the "history" of HB 2456 on the Legislative website, it was clear that the bill was scheduled for a hearing on April 8, which I already knew, but that no amendments had been posted as of that date. I concluded, both properly and improperly at the same time, that the Chief of Staff's words should be taken literally - HB 2456 was dead. Unfortunately, I don't have time to peruse every website on the planet so I wouldn't have seen OPRI's amended version of the bill to trade future retirees for present retirees. Thus, I scolded OPRI harshly for, what appears to have been, something they didn't do. They did not revive a dead bill. They provided an option to a bill that was dead in its original form, and gave the committee a way out of the legal dilemma they had created with the unamended version of the bill.
So, OPRI is owed an apology for my scolding. It was premature. They didn't revive a dead bill. They provided an amendment that protected those currently living out of state and those already retired, while offering up future retirees to the gallows. Future retirees remaining in Oregon will continue to get the tax benefit, but those who either already live out of state, or those who plan to move out of state, will not.
I have been called out on this by David Reinhardt, lobbyist (and former Oregonian columnist), and by Representative Schaufler's Chief of Staff. I suppose I should be more contrite, but at the moment I'm mostly pissed. I feel like Representative Schaufler's office deliberately misled me or steered me away from what was really going on (it's just me folks and I can't be in twenty places at one time). I stuck my neck on the line and I, deservedly, got it chopped off.
Nevertheless, my point about OPRI remains. This is NOT a good recruitment strategy. You need new members, desperately. Your membership is aging in place and there has to be a way to encourage new retirees to join. Again, for those retiring after 2011, what exactly will OPRI's claim to fame be?
I wish I could be clairvoyant and read through people's words. But when someone takes time to write me a personal email, I don't typically think I'm being burned, misled, or even deceived. Live and learn.
Thankfully, I'm going away from this mess for about a week. This will probably be my last post for this week. I'm going to enjoy a week in the Florida sunshine with John D. MacDonald and friends in Cedar Key, FL.