Formal Legislation Ends

AUGUST 1, 2006: The
formal session for the 2005-2006 legislative year has drawn to a close with a
flurry of activity by the House and Senate. Of interest to public retirees and
survivors is passage of several provisions related to public retirement.

House and Senate leaders orchestrated a successful override
of Governor Mitt Romney’s vetoes of Section 104 (Insurance Study) and the
reinstatement of active state employee’s health insurance contributions to
85/15. Section 104 creates a special commission, in which the Association has
been named, that will study the state Group Insurance Commission and the
healthcare plans under its control.

Also sent to the governor’s desk on the last day of the
formal session, July 31, was a bill (S2263) that allows the Essex Regional
Retirement System to begin the process of raising the COLA base to $14,000.
While the bill was filed and sponsored by the Essex Regional Retirement Board,
the concept is supported by the Association, which views the bill’s passage as
an important step forward in raising the COLA base for all retirees.

The Association’s own COLA base bill, H4940, raises
the base by four thousand dollars to a new level of $16,000. H4940 is
currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means. Association lobbyists
will continue to push for the increased COLA base, which potentially could move
during informal sessions.

Even though formal sessions are now complete, both the House
and Senate will continue to meet informally, twice weekly, through the first
Tuesday in January. While no roll call votes can be taken, non-controversial
matters can be brought forward and passed.

Governor Romney has approved the veterans bonus for state
and teacher accidental disability retirees. Signed into law as Chapter 161 of the
Acts of 2006
, the law corrects an error contained within Chapter 157, Acts
of 2005 and extends the veterans bonus to all eligible state and teacher
accidental disability retirees. Those eligible retirees will receive
notification from the retirement board in the coming weeks, along with a form
to fill out and return to the board with a copy of your DD214 (discharge