Sunday, February 25, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, January 19, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, January 19, 2024

RPEC Bill Tracker 1-19-2024

Want to stay up to date on the progress of bills that impact your retirement security? Check out RPEC’s bill tracker.  It’s updated every Friday and includes important information on the most important bills of this legislative session. The tracker allows you to stay up to date on our bills and our work to influence their progress. Click here to view the bill tracker.

Have questions about any of the bills that RPEC is paying attention to? Please join us on Fridays at 2:00 PM for RPEC’s weekly Legislative Update Zoom call. Each session includes an update on the progress of RPEC’s priorities and an opportunity for members to ask questions. All members are welcome to participate. Here is the meeting login information:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89045365250?pwd=cHYvbU80d08xTXRLTmpOZGF1VW53QT09

Meeting ID: 890 4536 5250
Passcode: 320296

Dial in: (253) 215-8782

RPEC Bills Receive Hearings 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.

Member Advocacy Makes a Big Difference – Thank you!

Thank you for responding to last week’s “call to action” by signing in PRO on our two priority bills.  HB 1985 (one-time COLA for PERS/TRS 1 Retirees) had more than 1,100 PRO sign ins. HB 2188 (Improving premium affordability for PEBB Medicare plans) received more than 900 PRO sign ins. When RPEC members and the retirees who are involved in our partner organizations take the time to cite their position “on the record,” legislators take notice. Public testimony (in-person or in writing) and high numbers of PRO sign ins are given consideration when bills move from the hearing stage of the legislative process to action in Executive Session.

This is a short legislative session, meaning that bills are moving quickly through the legislative process. We may be given a day or two notice, at best, when a bill of importance to our members is placed on a committee agenda for a hearing or is scheduled for action in Executive Session.

You can expect that we will be calling on you for your help, sometimes with very little notice. If we can hold this information and include it in the weekly NewsFlash, we will. If the need is urgent enough, we will send you an email with the “call to action” and instructions.

Please continue to keep abreast of the progress of our bills by reading our weekly NewsFlash and attending the weekly Legislative Update Calls held weekly on Fridays from 2:00-3:00 PM.

Upcoming Events:

Please refer to our calendar page for more information for each event, including links to Zoom meetings, if available.

  • Jan. 22-26 – Legislative Week, Virtual
  • Jan. 25 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • Jan. 26 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • Feb. 1 – Membership Committee Meeting (10:00 am, rescheduled from Jan. 25)
  • Feb. 2 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • Feb. 8 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • Feb. 9 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • Feb. 9 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • Feb. 16 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • Feb. 19 – Council Office closed, Presidents’ Day
  • Feb. 22 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • Feb. 23 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)

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