Lobby Day and Legislative Updates – April 9, 2015

TSEA April 9, 2015 Comments Off on Lobby Day and Legislative Updates – April 9, 2015
Lobby Day and Legislative Updates – April 9, 2015

Lobby Day 2015

Yesterday, TSEA held its annual Lobby Day on the Hill. State employees spent the day attending committees and meeting with elected officials to discuss legislation which impacts state workers.

At different points during the day, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell separately took time to address the full group of state employees in attendance.

Over 100 TSEA members were able to attend this year’s Lobby Day! Look for more coverage in the coming days, including pictures and video, on our website.

Senate State & Local Government Committee

Also yesterday, the Senate State and Local Government Committee met to discuss the Administration’s bills affecting Longevity and State Employee Health Insurance plans.

Both bills have now been amended to exempt current state employees from the impacts of the legislation.

During the hearing, Senator Briggs and Senator Ketron asked the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Norris, and representatives from the Administration to clarify that all current employees will be grandfathered in and that the proposed legislative changes will only apply to employees hired after June 30, 2015. 

The Administration responded that current employees were fully grandfathered in, as per the amendments for each bill, regardless of transfer, probationary status, or if a former state employee under the current benefits package leaves state service and later returns to work for the state. 

TSEA supports and appreciates the amendments which exempt current state employees from HB647/SB606 and HB648/SB607; however, we remain opposed to the legislation for the following reasons:

SB606 – Compensation Enhancement Act

  • Longevity Pay is the only statutorily-guaranteed salary increase for state employees.
  • If this bill passes, longevity pay will no longer be available for future state employees.
  • Future performance-based salary increases will not be statutorily guaranteed, but subject to available funding each fiscal year.

SB607 – State Health Insurance Reform

  • If this bill passes, a retiree health insurance plan will no longer be available from the state for future state employees.
  • The IRS is still developing regulatory guidance regarding the excise tax.
  • Since SB607 doesn’t impact the budget this year, we should wait for the IRS to develop regulation.

Both bills have advanced to the House and Senate Finance Committees, and are expected to be heard next week. TSEA will notify you when we know exactly when these bills will be heard, and if any further amendments are presented.

Information regarding the Voluntary Buyout Program

The administration through DOHR has changed some of the timelines for the Voluntary Buyout Program. For more information regarding the Voluntary Buyout Program, including the new timelines, CLICK HERE.