Legislative Team Focuses On 2008

JANUARY 2008: The coming six months are critical to the success of the Association’s 2007-2008 Legislative Agenda. Although the current session runs until January 2009, the Legislature stops meeting in formal session at the end of July.

At the start of the session, the Association had filed bills addressing 18 different issue areas of importance to public retirees. Hearings on these bills, which were conducted by the Joint Committee on Public Service, were completed in July.

“Our wish is that we could pass each one of the bills that we file. They are all legitimate proposals that will help our members,” explained Association Legislative Chairman Bill Hill. “Due to the cost of our proposals, we can’t expect that every bill is going to pass into law. We’re obliged to focus on a handful of bills that have momentum to move forward at this time.”

Members are encouraged to contact their local legislators to gain support for the Association’s legislative package.

Priorities Set

 Beyond all else, Association lobbyists have focused on raising the COLA base to at least $16,000 as the top priority for the coming year. H2234, which is now before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, equally affects every Association members. This proposal could prove to be cost neutral, with an adjustment to the Commonwealth’s pension funding schedule.  

H2455, which raises the Basic Life Insurance benefit to $10,000 for state retirees and employees remains under review by the Public Service Committee. The Committee is chaired by Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) and Senator Anthony Galluccio (D-Cambridge). Fortunately, H2455 now has the backing of the state’s Group Insurance Commission, which has filed a bill similar to that of the Association.

S1610 adjusts the Option C pensions of those who retired before July 1, 2004 and whose pensions were not calculated based on the updated mortality tables that were issued in October 2004. This bill, which is sponsored by Senator Stephen Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), is currently before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  

S1607 would reimburse state retirees for the cost of the Medicare Part B premium, which will be $96.40 per month beginning in January. The Association continues to make the case that Medicare is part of a retiree’s health insurance benefit and should therefore be paid for, at least in part, by the state.