Legislation

Articles about Legislation that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees.

Disability Update: Former Officer Resumes Work

MARCH 1999 - Beginning
last month, a former disabled MDC officer - now state trooper - about
whom we first reported over a year-and-a-half ago (July '97 Voice) has
resumed work. Phil Lindsay, with two fellow disabled officers (Mike
Shimkus and Bruce Buckley) who were cleared for work by the State
Retirement Board, are now back with the State Police.

New Senate Budget Chief Named

MARCH 1999 - Birmingham Appoints Montigny of New Bedford - A
new hand has been placed on the rudder of the Senate's most powerful
committee. Just as State House observers were settling in for a session
of the status quo, Senate President Thomas Birmingham (D-Chelsea)
decided to shake-up his leadership team by elevating Senator Mark
Montigny (D-New Bedford) to chair the Ways and Means Committee.

Key Retirement Committee Changes Leaders

MARCH 1999 - Casey and Joyce To Chair Public Service - The
winds of change blew through the halls of the State House this winter
to begin the 1999-2000 Legislative Session. For State House watchers,
the last two months have been filled with political intrigue as the
Beacon Hill landscape has been set in place for the session.

SENATE BILL NUMBERS NOW AVAILABLE

JANUARY 8, 1999 - All
9 Association bills, filed in the Senate, have been assigned bill
numbers for the 1999-2000 Legislative Session. House bill numbers were
reported in the January 1999 Voice.

LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS WITH FLURRY OF ACTIVITY

JANUARY 8, 1999 - Pension Bonds Gain Popularity - As
the 1997-1998 Legislative Session came to a close a midnight on
Tuesday, January 5, several retirement related bills had found their
way to the governor’s desk. During the final week of the session, our
Association’s legislative team fought to move the handful of remaining
bills through the process.

Central to our efforts was H-5469, the non-contributory retiree’s COLA law
which is now awaiting Government Paul Cellucci’s signature. In
addition, pension obligation bond authorizations for the cities of
Everett and Holyoke, along with a retiree health care trust fund for
the Town of Brookline each received legislative approval before being
sent to Cellucci.

Both the Everett
and Holyoke pension obligation bond (POB) bills, H-5876 and H-5863
respectively, allow those municipalities to do the same, as Worcester,
in satisfying the retirement systems’ unfunded liability. In other
words, the city will issue POBs and pay off now the full amount of the
debt.

On the municipal health
insurance front, Brookline is following the example set earlier by
Arlington and establishing a retiree health care liability trust fund.
Last year, Arlington was successful in obtaining passage of Chapter 12,
Acts of ‘98.

Chapter 12 allowed
Arlington to set aside funds in a retiree insurance liability fund to
offset the anticipated cost of premium payments by retirees in the
future. With some variation, Brookline will be doing the same to cover
future health care costs. It must be emphasized that the Arlington (and
Brookline) plans do not take money out of their retirement systems.

Over 5 years ago, our Association reported on this issue (7/93 Voice).
Also, the Mass Municipal Association has filed a bill in this
legislative session, allowing all communities to establish such a fund.
Further details on POBs and health insurance trusts will be available in the upcoming March Voice.

At
session’s end, two retirement bills came close but did not receive
final enactment. S-2331 addressed the operation of the retirement
systems for counties that have been or will be abolished, by
establishing "regional" retirement systems. H-5369 (commonly referred
to as the "Needham bill") would have allowed retirement boards, if
certain conditions were met, to forgive the repayment by a retiree of
pension benefits paid to him due to a mistake or error not of his doing.

We have reported on both these issues extensively in the Voice. They will be addressed again in this session.

COLA VICTORY FOR NON-CONTRIB RETIREES

JANUARY 5, 1999 - "We
never gave up our fight for non-contributory retirees to receive a
cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)," announced Association President
Ralph White. "And because of that, victory was achieved before the
Legislature ended its session."

LEGISLATORS SIGN ON TO ASSOCIATION BILLS

JANUARY 1999 - In
addition to a bill’s lead sponsor, other senators and representatives
can sign on to it. As for the Association’s legislative package, a
number of legislators have done so, lending their support to a
particular bill.

ASSOCIATION FILES LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

JANUARY 1999 -
Fifteen Key Bills Filed For 1999 - On
January 6th, the 1999-2000 Legislative Session officially begins with
over 5,900 separate pieces of legislation awaiting consideration.Our
Association has filed fifteen bills, effecting retirement and health
care issues.

1999

JANUARY 1999 - A Comprehensive Package Into The Next Millennium - During
the past months, the Association’s Legislative Committee, chaired by
William Hill, prepared legislation that has been introduced into the
General Court’s 1999-2000 legislative session. As a result of its work,
the committee presents to the membership the following legislative
package of 15 bills. (Senate bills * have not received numbers at this
time.):

Legislative Agenda In Works for 1999-2000

NOVEMBER 1998 - Lobbying Team Ready For New Session - Just
as the 1997-98 Legislative session winds down, our Association’s
legislative team is gearing up for the new session set to convene in
January.