Monday, April 15, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, March 1, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, March 1, 2024

Call to Action: Please Take Action Today on H.R. 5779

Concerns are escalating about the Fiscal Commission Act (H.R. 5779), which is poised for a House vote. This legislation will form a 16-member fiscal commission that will recommend spending cuts to balance the federal budget and reduce the debt ceiling. Since January, RPEC has been sharing information in the weekly NewsFlash emails about the concerning features of this bill. Now, AFSCME Retirees and the American Alliance for Retired Americans are calling on us to act now to stop the progression of this bill. Based on public comments rendered by House Speaker Michael Johnson, Social Security and Medicare funding will likely be targeted for cuts by the fiscal commission if the legislation is approved by Congress.

Here are two ways you can communicate your opposition to this bill:

  • Sign onto this letter. The letter is being sent by all AFSCME Retirees chapter members to your representatives in Congress. The sign-on process takes less than 1 minute to complete.
  • Call 1-844-331-0441. Tell Congress to vote NO on the Fiscal Commission Bill (H.R. 5779) and to oppose any legislation on fiscal commissions. This call will take only a few minutes of your time.

This bill continues to be on AFSCME Retiree’s high priority watch list as budget negotiations intensify in March to secure approval of a final budget bill that will fund the federal government through fiscal year 2024 (October 1, 2023 through September 30, 2024).

Our strength is in our numbers. Your federal elected officials will take notice of your concerns as voting constituents. Thank you for taking time out of your day to take action. Stay tuned for the latest news on this bill and other state and federal advocacy issues through the weekly NewsFlash.

COLA, PEBB Month of Death Bill Pass Legislature

On the evening of Wednesday, February 28, the Washington State Senate unanimously passed Substitute House Bill 1985 and House Bill 2481, RPEC’s top priority bills. As identical versions of both bills were previously passed by the Washington State House of Representatives, both pieces of legislation have secured final passage and will now be headed to Governor Jay Inslee for signature.

PERS 1 & TRS 1 Retirees Likely to Receive COLA in July

SHB 1985 provides a one-time 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees, not to exceed $110 per month. The bill, which is sponsored by Representative Joe Timmons (D, Bellingham), will need to be funded in the supplemental operating budget bill that is currently being negotiated between House and Senate leaders. As both chambers have passed the bill, funding is expected to appear in the budget, which will need to be passed before the end of the Legislative Session on Thursday, March 7. Retirees would receive the COLA with their July pension payments, which are initiated at the end of the month.

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Congress Reaches Agreement on Temporary Funding Bill, Federal Government Averts Shutdown on March 2

On February 28th, congressional leaders announced that they have reached a deal for advancing the 12 annual bills that will fund an array of federal programs for this fiscal year – October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024.

The compromise reached on Wednesday of this week led to the passage of a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating through March 8 and March 22, through newly set deadlines to keep the government funded.

The deal would put six of the 12 funding bills on the path to passage on March 8 with the remaining six by March 22. The first six bills impact about 20% of federal government funding. The remaining six address 80% of federal government funding. The later deadline affords both chambers more opportunities to debate and pass the most impactful year-long fiscal bills.

On Thursday, February 29, the House and Senate approved the stopgap legislation that will extend the expiration date for federal funding to March 8 for agencies including the departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Finances for the rest of the federal government would expire on March 22 under this legislation.

President Biden signed the stopgap bill into law the morning of March 1 to avert a partial government shutdown. With approval of this new stopgap legislation, the federal government will be funded through the new deadlines.

Stay tuned for more updates through RPEC’s weekly NewsFlash. Details will also be available through the weekly Legislative Update Calls to be held today and on March 8.

RPEC Bill Tracker 3-1-2024

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.

Weekly Legislative Update Calls Wrapping Up

Throughout the 2024 Legislative Session, RPEC has hosted legislative update calls every Friday from 2:00 – 3:00 PM. The Zoom calls, which are open to all members, are an opportunity to learn about RPEC’s legislative priorities and stay up to date on their progress. With the 2024 Legislative Session coming to a close on Thursday, March 7, the final weekly update calls will occur on March 1 and March 8. Then, beginning on April 5, the update calls will be held on the first Friday of each month from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. Here is the meeting login information for all legislative update calls:

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

Meeting ID: 890 4536 5250
Passcode: 320296

Dial in: (253) 215-8782

National Slam the Scam Day, March 7, 2024

From the Social Security Administration: On National Slam the Scam Day and throughout the year, we give you the tools to recognize Social Security-related scams and stop scammers from stealing your money and personal information.

Help protect your loved ones and people in your community this Slam the Scam Day by:

  • Educating them about government imposter scams. Let them know they shouldn’t be embarrassed to report if they shared personal information or suffered a financial loss. It is important to report the scam as quickly as possible.
  • Sharing our Scam Alert fact sheet and helping educate others about how to protect themselves.

Report Social Security-related scams to the Social Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Report a scam here.

Visit www.ssa.gov/scam for more information to stay up to date on the latest scam tactics. Repost #SlamtheScam information on social media to keep your friends and family safe.

Editor’s Note: For information on protecting yourself from email scams, watch our webinarProtecting Your Email & Avoiding Online Scams

Upcoming Events:

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

  • Mar. 7 – Sine Die (end of Legislative Session)
  • Mar. 8 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • Mar. 14 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • Mar. 15 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • Mar. 21 – Public Employees Benefits Board (9:00 am)
  • Mar. 22 – Political Action Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • April 5 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • April 11 – Public Employees Benefits Board (9:00 am)
  • April 11 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • April 12 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)

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