Several Association Bills Heard by Public Service

Both June and July proved to be busy months on the legislative front for the Association. After a slow start to the public hearing process, several of the legislative proposals filed for this session were heard by the Joint Committee on Public Service during three separate hearings.

This session the legislature has transitioned to a hearing process that includes both in-person and virtual testimony. This would be the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that we would testify in-person.

CEO SHAWN DUHAMEL & LEG. LIAISON NANCY MCGOVERN TESTIFY ON ASSOCIATION INSURANCE BILLSOn Tuesday, June 13th, CEO Shawn Duhamel and Legislative Liaison Nancy McGovern testified before the committee in support of legislation relative to health benefits and insurance.
Public Service is the committee which has jurisdiction on all legislative matters involving public retirees and your retirement benefits. The Committee is chaired by State Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and State Senator Michael Brady (D-Brockton).

Testimony was focused on five bills: GIC Out-of-Pocket maximums (H2593), Survivor Insurance (H2495), and the Composition of the GIC (S1668), raising the Basic Life Insurance Coverage (H2578) and the implementation of a GIC Medicare Buy-In Program (H2563).

Our proposals relative to the COLA were heard before the Joint Committee on Thursday, June 30th. President Frank Valeri and Legislative Chairman Tom Bonarrigo testified on two bills, increasing the State and Teacher COLA base (H2486) and the enhanced COLA for career public employees (H2487, S1629).

More recently on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, Shawn Duhamel, Tom Bonarrigo and Nancy McGovern once again testified before the Joint Committee. The agenda focused on bills related to pensions and retirement boards. During this hearing the three split the duty of testifying on six Association bills. The bills were as follows: Relative to Option B & C (H2475), Allowing Survivors to Vote in Board elections (H2542), Providing an Estimate First Pension Payment (H2625), Increasing the Veterans Bonus (H2626 & S1753) and Increasing the Minimum Option D Allowance for Survivors (S1678).

At the July 25th hearing, the Association was also recorded in favor of two additional bills: H2508 relative to retirement board appointments and S1624 relative to the creation of an infectious disease presumption for first responders.

Both the Basic Life Insurance and Medicare Buy-In proposals are issues in which we continue to work directly with the GIC to resolve – possibly without the need for legislation, at least in terms of the Medicare Buy-In. The Basic Life Insurance benefit for state retirees and employees is set by statute and requires an act of the legislature to change. However, we are hopeful that the GIC may help find an affordable way to increase the benefit. Both were put on hold due to the procurement process undertaken by the GIC, which ended earlier this year. We now plan to engage the GIC once again in finding a way forward on these two issues.

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