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Executive Director’s Monthly Letter – November 2022

Dear RPEC Leaders & Members:

November is a time when we quicken our pace in our legislative affairs activity with a focus on ensuring that members vote for RPEC-endorsed candidates who prioritize retiree issues, influencing the Select Committee on Pension Policy’s (SCPP) endorsement of legislation that benefits our members, and gearing up for Legislative Day on January 30th, 2023.

Cast your vote for pro-retiree candidates

With the general election just a week away, be sure to check out the list of RPEC-endorsed candidates for state office before you cast your ballot. Visit www.rpecwa.org for more details.

Status of proposed legislation from the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP)

Thanks to all of you, RPEC members dominated the list of attendees and those testifying at both the September and October meetings of the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP). This joint committee, appointed by the Governor, makes recommendation on pension policy to the Legislature. Bills sponsored by the SCPP are more likely to have bipartisan support during the legislative session.

At the November 15th meeting, we anticipate the SCPP voting on proposed legislation that will:  provide a legislative pathway to a permanent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Plan 1 retirees and provide inflationary relief through at least another one-time ad hoc COLA.

At the October 20th meeting, thanks to RPEC members, we collectively called out the need to insert specific bill language relating to the restoration of the Plan 1 COLA. In the weeks between the September and October SCPP meetings, the language we originally proposed was watered down and did not specify a time by which the Legislature would fund a permanent COLA. We called out our concerns publicly at the October meeting. We hope our concerns were addressed.  We are eagerly waiting for the meeting materials to be posted to the SCPP website to see whether our language is included in the proposed bill.  If it is, we will urge SCPP members to support this language.  If the language has been watered down, again, or omitted we will communicate loudly why the path to a permanent COLA is necessary.

At the October meeting, the Executive Committee also discussed whether the proposed legislation should include another ad hoc COLA for Plan 1 retirees. SCPP Chair Senator Steve Conway called for the Office of the State Actuary (OSA) to explore the viability of back-to-back COLAs in 2023 and 2024.  There is no legislative precedence for back-to-back COLAs, nor is there broad legislative support for ad hoc COLAs exceeding 3%. (Other retirees vested in Plans 2 and 3 receive an automatic 3% COLA annually.) At the November 15th meeting, RPEC will urge support for one or more ad hoc COLAs to provide inflationary relief, but not at the expense of a legislative path to a permanent COLA.

By early next week, you will receive an email from the Council Office outlining our messaging and how you can help us at the November 15th SCPP meeting.

We need your help for the November 15th SCPP meeting  

First, a big thank you, once again, to all who offered verbal testimony, submitted written testimony, signed in with a PRO position and/or attended the September and October meetings of the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP).

The adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” is the key to our success with sponsored legislation by the SCPP. When we are unified in our messaging and when we show up in substantial numbers at pivotal SCPP meetings, like the one taking place on November 15th, we have a chance to influence the state’s pension policy.

At the November meeting, the SCPP will vote on a proposed bill (see article above). We need you to show up, again, and share your stories so that our priorities are addressed in the legislation.

In the next week, you will receive an email from the Council Office with instructions for submitting verbal and written testimony, registering a PRO position on the permanent COLA agenda item, and registering to attend.  If you have been supporting us over the past few months, you know that the Office of the State Actuary, which staffs the SCPP, has continuously changed the procedures for participating in meetings and registering support.  The ever-changing procedures have been frustrating and confusing for not only our members but also for members of the Washington Education Association-Retired (WEA-R). RPEC took the lead in crafting a letter with WEA-R to SCPP Chair Steve Conway to ensure the procedures are clear and consistent. Once the procedures for the November 15th meeting have been confirmed with us, we will share more information.

Share your story at the next SCPP meeting

If you are a Plan 1 retiree or if you stand in solidarity with Plan 1 members on the need for a permanent COLA and ad hoc COLAs, please consider offering verbal testimony at the November 15th meeting. Tips and best practices to ensure effective verbal testimony are available through an archived webinar on the RPEC website at: https://rpecwa.org/scpp-testimony-preparation-training/.

Earn $84 for recruiting 2 new members

Member-to-member recruitment has proven to be the most effective way to grow RPEC’s membership and that’s why RPEC is calling on you to contribute to the growth of your chapter through the Recruit 2 Campaign. If you recruit 2 new members, you get an $84 check (the cost for a year of membership)!  Be sure that the recruited member writes you name on the application as the referral, so we can keep an accurate tally of the members who recruit the greatest number of new recruits. Another benefit of recruiting 2 new members is that you will be recognized publicly for your efforts!

All told, 22 new members joined RPEC in October, with 138 new members joining since August 1st, 2022.  A handful of RPEC members were honored at Convention for their Recruit 2 efforts since the launch of the campaign.  Won’t you join us in expanding our membership? Recruit 2 and receive a check for $84 – your annual fee for membership.

We All Win as RPEC Grows

All RPEC leaders and members share responsibility for strengthening RPEC. With more members, RPEC will garner a larger political presence, gaining greater influence on legislators to strengthen pension and health care security. The more our membership base grows and the more members we have regularly participating in our chapters, the more influence we harness to advance our legislative priorities. One way you can help RPEC grow is by reaching out to your former coworkers and inviting them to attend your chapter meeting to learn more about our organization. RPEC’s advocacy efforts impact the well-being of all Plan 1, 2 and 3 retirees. Moreover, our chapters offer many ways to engage with like-minded retirees. As you work to help strengthen RPEC, please keep in mind these three membership eligibility categories:

  • Full Member: Retired public sector employees of any age
  • Associate Member: Active public sector employees within 18 months of retirement
  • Vested Members: Non-retired employees who have left the public sector, but are vested in PERS, PSERS, SERS, and/or TRS

If you have questions, want to learn more about Recruit 2, or how you can help RPEC grow, please contact Jakob Canup, Membership Coordinator, at Jakob.canup@rpecwa.org or 360-352-8262, ext. 106.

PEBB Open Enrollment – November 1-30

The Month of November is the open enrollment period for those receiving their health care benefits through the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB). For more information, visit the PEBB website at:  https://www.hca.wa.gov/employee-retiree-benefits/open-enrollment-pebb. The website includes a list of the in-person benefits fairs, webinars, and other information to help you choose the plan that best fits your needs and those of your spouse/partner. You can also view a webinar, hosted especially for RPEC members by HCA, outlining the health care plan choices available for 2023. Visit the RPEC website to view the webinar:  https://rpecwa.org/pebb-retiree-portfolio-overview-and-plan-comparisons-10-2022/.

Monthly Leadership Call, November 21, 2-3 p.m.

All RPEC leaders, as well as all members who are interested in learning more about RPEC or perhaps serving in a Council and/or chapter leadership role in the future, are invited to the monthly Leadership Call on November 21st at 2-3 p.m. Our focus will be on legislative advocacy.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85437458246?pwd=ZFpERk94WmRPMTlFTjkyd2xmdlpPZz09

Meeting ID: 854 3745 8246
Passcode: 035244

Call in:  253-215-8782 (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 854 3745 8246
Passcode: 035244

Standing Committees to be announced in mid-November

Following the election of new Council officers at Convention, the president will appoint standing committee chairs and committee members.  The Executive Board will consider the nominees for each standing committee at the November 18th meeting. The standing committee chairs and members will be announced on November 21st and posted to the RPEC website.

No standing committees will meet the month of November pending Executive Board approval of the new appointees.

The only standing committee scheduled to meet in December is the Legislative Committee on December 9th at 10 a.m. All other standing committees will resume in January 2023.

Legislative Day, January 30th, 2023

Registration is now open for RPEC’s annual Legislative Day on January 30th, 2023.  The event will be held in person in Olympia.  Register online at:  https://rpecwa.org/2023-legislative-day/.  No registrations will be taken by email.  Registration will close on January 11th.  The host hotel will be the Olympia Hotel at Capitol Lake (formerly the Hotel RL). Lodging is the responsibility of attendees or their chapters. The Council Office will reimburse attendees for mileage to/from the event. Lunch and a post-event reception will also be covered by the Council Office.  For more information, contact Alissa Brady, Administrative Project Coordinator, at Alissa.brady@rpecwa.org or 360-352-8262, ext. 100.

Important Dates

Visit the RPEC website at www.rpecwa.org for the full calendar of RPEC meetings and events:

Nov. 1-30:  Open enrollment, Public Employees Benefits Board
November 2:  Monthly Legislative Update Call
Nov. 11:  Council Office closed in observance of Veterans Day
Nov. 15:  Select Committee on Pension Policy meeting (SCPP), Pension Policy Workgroup (3-5 p.m.)
Nov. 16-17:  Executive Board training in Olympia
Nov.18:  Executive Board meeting in Olympia (open to all members via Zoom)
Nov. 21:  Monthly Leadership Call
Nov. 23-25:  Council Office closed in observance of Thanksgiving
Dec. 9:  Legislative Committee meeting
Dec. 13:  SCPP meeting (tentative)
Dec. 23-Jan. 2:  Council Office closed in observance of December holidays
Jan 3:  Council Office resumes regular hours
Jan. 9:  First day of Legislative Session
Jan 30:  RPEC Legislative Day

Best,
Laurie

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