What to know about legislative bills impacting PERS retirees this session
As a voice for member PERS retirees, OPRI continues to be active on the legislative front. Since the 2023 Legislative session began in January, OPRI has been monitoring a number of bills that would impact PERS retiree benefits.
There are a number of bills that could have a positive impact on PERS members, including:
- HB 2054: Provides that district attorneys and deputy district attorneys qualify as police officers under Public Employees Retirement System. Currently in Joint Committee on Ways & Means
- HB 2283 – PERS Agency bill: Modifies provisions relating to public employee retirement. As it stands now, the requirement for police and firefighters to be eligible for retirement is 60 months of continuous work which must be held immediately before the retirement date. As amended, this bill would change the 60-month requirement to a retirement credit. This would allow for service to be counted toward retirement without having to restart the 60-months of service if there is a break in service. Currently in Senate Committee on Labor & Business
- HB 2296: Makes permanent provisions allowing retired member of Public Employees Retirement System to be reemployed by participating public employer for unlimited number of hours without reduction in pension benefits. As amended, this extends the sunset 10 years to 2034. The bill has received wide-spread support. Currently in Senate Committee on Labor & Business
- SB 283 – As amended, this bill establishes retirement and benefit rights for certain substitute teachers and exempts retired person from certain limitations on employment if person is employed as licensed or classified staff member by school district or education service district. Currently in Joint Committee on Ways & Means
Meanwhile, a number of bills are not moving forward. Among them is OPRI’s priority bill, HB 2822. The bill would have given low-and-middle income PERS retirees a one-time cash payment – equivalent to an 8% cost-of-living stipend – to help ease the inflationary pinch on their fixed incomes.
This outcome is disappointing, considering that record rates of inflation show no signs of stopping soon. OPRI will continue to keep this issue in front of legislators and hope to revive this discussion in future sessions.
Additional bills not advancing include:
- HB 2601: This bill would change the way the Treasury invests Oregon Public Employee Retirement Funds (OPERF), directing them to exit from certain carbon-intensive investments and modify future investment options. OPRI conducted a survey of its members and found that a majority of members do not currently support the bill. These results were shared in testimony during the public hearing held in February in the House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government, and Veterans. OPRI will continue to monitor this issue as it is likely to resurface in future sessions.
- HB 2934: Prohibits public employer from making deduction from salary or wages of public employee to pay dues, fees or other assessments to labor organization.
- HB 3219: Establishes standards for fiduciary of pension benefit plan offered by public body.
- SB 79: Expands exemption from limitations on employment of retired members of Public Employees Retirement System employed by certain law enforcement and correctional agencies.
- SB 663: Changes calculation of final average salary for purposes of Public Employees Retirement System to use five years of salary instead of three years, for salary paid on and after January 1, 2024.
OPRI will continue to engage with members through the legislative session and let you know how you can get involved. You can also follow updates on Facebook @ORPersRetirees.