More details about the Governor’s state employee package (including proposed parental leave and benefits changes), progress on our legislative priorities, and continued budget hearings top the list for legislative activity this week.
TSEA Lobby Day
The deadline to register for Lobby Day has passed. For those chapters who have registered to attend on April 11, please note that it’s time to start scheduling appointments with your legislators. You can find the tentative lobby day schedule by clicking here. If you’re unsure who your legislators are, click here to look them up.
If you cannot attend Lobby Day, we encourage you to look up your legislators and email them during the week of Lobby Day (April 11). Here is a recommended message to send:
Although I couldn’t attend TSEA’s State Employee Day on the hill, I want to thank you for your support of active and retired state and higher education employees. Your overwhelming response to our needs has been truly appreciated, and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon. We’re looking forward to having you as a guest at one of our TSEA chapter meetings in the near future!
FMLA (and other changes to leave and benefits)
The Governor’s office recently shared additional details about HB324, the state employee package that includes provisions for 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, alongside other changes to employee benefits and leave policies. We have summarized that info below for your convenience.
Governor’s State Employee Package
Changes to Employee Leave:
Currently, Sick and Annual leave are accrued each month. This legislation would instead provide employees with their Sick and Annual time off for the year up front to aid in recruitment and retention efforts. This change will apply to new employees starting January 1, 2024, and existing employees on or after their service anniversary date in 2024. No state employee will gain or lose any additional Sick or Annual leave due to this legislation. This proposal would also permit the state to claw back any time off used in excess of what they are currently permitted on the month-to-month basis.
Update to Parental Leave Policy:
The proposed legislation would pay for 12 weeks of paid leave for state employees for the birth or adoption of a child. The change only impacts the executive and judicial branches and requires the qualifying event to comply with all existing FMLA guidelines.
Update to Employee Benefits:
The proposed legislation modifies the definition of benefits in state statute. The change in language will allow the state to fund all or part of the benefits instead of requiring employees to pay 100% of “voluntary benefits,” including dental insurance and long-term disability benefits.
Retiree Eligibility Update:
The proposed legislation clarifies retiree eligibility requirements for various retiree health benefits. Non-TCRS higher education, local education, and local government retirees are not required to draw a retirement benefit in order to participate in respective Insurance Committee-established retiree health benefits. Non-TCRS higher education retirees are not required to draw a retirement benefit in order to participate in The Tennessee Plan. All other state, higher education, local education, and local government or quasi-government retirees must be enrolled in TCRS and drawing a TCRS retirement benefit to participate in the Tennessee Plan.
NOTE: This is an active piece of legislation, which legislators can amend and change along the way. As this legislation progresses through the legislative committee process, and the final legislation comes into focus, we will have more details to share.
Northeast Legislative Breakfast
Here is a video recap of our Northeast Regional Legislative Breakfast. Special thanks to Rep. John Crawford, Rep. John Holsclaw, Sen. Rusty Crowe, Rep. Rebecca Alexander, Sen. Jon Lundberg, Rep. Scotty Campbell & Rep. Bud Hulsey for making time for state employees.
That concludes our update for this week. Stay tuned to our legislative updates for the latest news about the work TSEA is doing for you on the hill. Thank you for being a TSEA member!
Click here for the latest update on key legislation we are monitoring or working to advance.
As a reminder, Livestreams and videos of legislative meetings and activities are accessible on the legislative calendar page at this link: https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/schedule/