Sunday, February 25, 2024

RPEC Bills Receive Hearing in House Appropriations

RPEC Bills Receive Hearing in House Appropriations

On Monday, January 15th, three of RPEC’s priority bills received hearings. As of distribution of this week’s NewsFlash, only one (HB 2013) has been scheduled for Executive Session. Here’s an update on our priority bills:

  • HB 1985 (One-time COLA for PERS/TRS 1 Retirees): This bill, sponsored by the Select Committee on Pension Policy, will provide another one-time cost-of-living adjustment to PERS/TRS 1 retirees with a cap of $125. Thank you for responding to last week’s “call to action” to sign in PRO. As a result of your quick action (and that of our partner organizations who we helped to mobilize), more than 1,100 PRO positions were cited in the record of this bill. Clair Olivers, RPEC President (Chapter 6), and Nancy Heley, RPEC Secretary and Chair of the Legislative Committee (Chapter 18), testified on behalf of RPEC. Claude Burfect, District 9 Representative (Chapter 3) testified, sharing the story of Zaida Zapata Quimby (Chapter 28).

If your state representative serves on the Appropriations Committee, please urge them to schedule this bill for an immediate hearing. We want this bill to keep moving through the legislative process, as it is RPEC’s top priority.

  • HB 2188 (Improving premium affordability for PEBB Medicare plans): This bill, which was initiated by RPEC with support from the PEBB Stakeholders’ Medicare Coalition, will increase the Medicare Explicit Subsidy, funds provided by the state to lower healthcare premiums for Medicare-eligible retirees on PEBB plans.  If this bill passes, the state will pay up to 60% of the monthly healthcare premium not to exceed $183. This bill benefits those on all plans except UMP Classic Medicare and the most expensive Kaiser plans. (RPEC has initiated a budget request and another bill to address the affordability of the premiums for those plans). More than 900 PRO positions were cited in the record for the hearing earlier this week. Testimony was provided by members of the PEBB Stakeholders Medicare Coalition, which is led by RPEC. Laurie Weidner, Executive Director, Toni Long, RPEC Healthcare Workgroup (Chapter 3), Aruna Bhuta, Healthcare Workgroup (Chapter 13), and Carol Dotlich, District 8 Representative (Chapter 12 President), provided verbal testimony.  Ed Rodriguez, Healthcare Workgroup (Chapter 3), and Aruna Bhuta also submitted written testimony.  Special thanks to Matt Groshong, Healthcare Workgroup Chair (Chapter 3 President), and the Healthcare Workgroup members for offering testimony and helping to mobilize RPEC members.
  • HB 2013 (Paying DRS retirement benefits until the end of the month in which a retiree dies): This bill will stop pension prorating during the month of death. Testimony was offered by Emmett Mills, Government Affairs Coordinator, and Nancy Heley, RPEC Secretary and Chair of the Legislative Committee (Chapter 18). Action will be taken on the bill in Executive Session of the Appropriations Committee on January 25th at 4:00 PM.

Keep apprised of RPEC’s legislative efforts by attending the weekly Legislative Update Calls held each Friday from 2:00-3:00 PM. Details are available at www.rpecwa.org.

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