I’d like to start this week’s message by thanking those members who turned out for our Area Meetings in Pittsfield and West Springfield last week. We had larger than expected crowds in both locations, with several members indicating that it was their first time attending an Area Meeting.

This week, Mass Retirees joined the various national groups advocating for the end of the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) laws in calling for a Congressional hearing on the issue. While we would prefer that Congress would act in passing a law to either repeal or reform both the WEP and GPO, a public hearing on the pending legislation would help to keep the spotlight on the issue and maintain the needed pressure on Congress.

We also believe that a public hearing would serve to inform and educate both policy makers, as well as the general public on the facts surrounding these two unfair laws. One major hurdle that remains in the way of ending WEP & GPO is the lack of public support across the country.

The call for a public hearing was initiated by the cosponsors of HR82, Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA). HR82 seeks to fully repeal both the WEP and GPO. The bill now has 298 House sponsors, including newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). Like Massachusetts, the majority of the Louisiana public workforce is not covered by Social Security. I should note that the entire MA public workforce operates outside of Social Security.

It also must be noted that this is not the first time in recent history where a House Speaker has come from a non-Social Security state. Both Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy represent the largest non-Social Security state – California. It is unclear as to what Speaker Johnson’s position may be on WEP and GPO, as well as whether or not he will support a bill being brought to the House floor for a vote.

Next week, Nancy McGovern and I will be in Washington, DC to attend the Public Sector Healthcare Roundtable’s Annual Conference. The Healthcare Roundtable is an educational resource for GIC-like plans from across the country.

While in Washington, we will also spend time on Capitol Hill meeting with the Republican and Democrat policymakers who are focused on Social Security policy. Our hope is to develop a clearer picture of potential next steps based on what we learn next week. We plan to provide a full update on these issues within the weekly report on November 10th.

At home in Massachusetts, we are focused on an upcoming public hearing involving Mass Retirees sponsored legislative proposals.

The Joint Committee on Public Service will hold a hearing on Tuesday, October 31st at 10 a.m. at the State House and virtually. Three bills filed by the Mass Retirees for this session will be heard during the hearing. Association President Frank Valeri and Legislative Chair Tom Bonarrigo are scheduled to testify before the committee in favor of the legislation. These are the last three bills that the Association has before Public Service.

The bills being heard on Tuesday are HB2494 & SB1662 filed by Representative Mike Day (D-Winchester) and Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro). The legislation makes any increases to premium splits by a municipality to retirees of that municipality prospective, thereby protecting an already retired employee at the time from incurring the higher percent. The third bill is SB1752 filed by Senator John Velis (D-Westfield) which seeks to extend the definition of veteran that was expanded in 2004. The definition included those who served during non-wartime periods as well as the National Guard in limited cases. However, the definition was only applied to those who retired after 8/26/04. The legislation seeks to extend the definition to those who qualify and retired before 8/26/04. Members can watch the hearing online here.

Once the hearing process for the Public Service Committee is complete, we are anticipating the Chairs will move forward with Executive Sessions. During this process the Committee makes recommendations on next steps for these three bills as well as our other fifteen that were previously heard.

The Public Service hearing on the 31st will conclude the public hearing process for most of the bills in our legislative package. There is one remaining piece of legislation awaiting a hearing, however that bill is before the Joint Committee on Financial Services. The bill seeks to push out the date of notification from December 1 until March 1 that a municipality would have to notify the GIC of exit for the next plan year. Financial Services continues to schedule hearings weekly, and we anticipate the bill being heard in the next few weeks. While hearings are sometimes scheduled at the last minute, we will do our best to notify members as to when the bill will be heard.

Before closing, I would like to let our Maine members and all Maine citizens know that we share their grief over the senseless killings that occurred Wednesday evening in Lewiston. We remain concerned over their safety, as well as for the safety of the law enforcement officers now working to bring the murderer to justice.

With great appreciation,


Shawn Duhamel
Chief Executive Officer
Mass Retirees Association

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