September Legislative Update

SEPT 2007 - As reported in the July edition of the Voice, the Joint Committee on Public Service held public hearings through the month of July that included several bills of high importance to Association members. Public hearings are viewed as the first crucial step in the legislative process.

On July 12, the Committee heard testimony from Association President
Ralph White, along with several Association members, as to reinstating
the Medicare Part B premium refund once paid by the state’s Group
Insurance Commission (GIC). S1607, filed by Senator Michael Morrissey
(D-Quincy), requires the GIC to once again reimburse retirees for the
expense.

At the same hearing, the Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jay
Kaufman (D-Lexington) and Senator Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield), also
heard testimony on our bill raising the basic life insurance benefit
for state retirees and employees to $10,000. The bill (H2455) was filed
by Rep. Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). A number of other insurance
related bills were also reviewed at the hearing, including several
filed by our Association that would alter certain policies of the state
GIC.

A week later, on July 19, the Committee heard testimony from
Association Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel on S1610 (Morrissey),
which requires a recalculation of the retirement allowance for those
retiring under Option C prior to July 1, 2004. Once again, a number of
Association members were in attendance and testified on the Option C
issue.

The Public Service Committee is now considering an alternative
proposal, by the Association, that calls for the creation of a special
commission on Option C, that would be charged with identifying the
number of retirees impacted and the potential cost associated with
recalculating pre-July 2004 pensions.

Association officials also presented testimony on S1613 (Morrissey),
which would allow surviving spouses, who lost their pension benefit due
to remarriage before 7/1/00, to prospectively regain their survivor
pension.

In addition, further testimony was given on H2581, filed by House
Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading), which increases the
minimum pensions of various surviving spouses.

The Committee has instructed   staff to analyze the various proposals
during the August informal recess. As of press time, the Committee is
scheduled to reconvene in mid-September, when further action will be
considered.

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