Legislation

Articles about Legislation that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees.

2003-2004 Legislative Program: Sponsors

MARCH 2003
- The following are the eighteen bills filed by the Association for the
2003-2004 session. Names listed in bold denote the lead sponsors of
each bill. All other cosponsors are listed in the order in which
senators and representatives, respectively, signed onto the bill.

Wide Support For Retiree Legislation

MARCH 2003
- Top Democrats/Republicans Stand With Association - Once again, the Association's legislative team has been successful in
rounding up marquis sponsors for our bills. As members may recall from
the January edition of the Voice, our 2003-2004 legislative package contains 18 separate bills.

2003 - 2004 Legislative Program

JANUARY 2003
- Enhancing Benefits for Retirees/Survivors - Our Association's Legislative Committee, chaired by William Hill, has
been working with members of the General Court to craft the legislative
program for the 2003-2004 session. The following are summaries of each
of the bills that the Association has filed for the coming session.
Bill numbers and sponsors will be reported in our March Voice.

Association Ready For New Session

JANUARY 2003
- Files 18 Bills: Includes Raising COLA Base - In anticipation of the legislative session that is about to begin on
January 1, the Association has filed its new legislative package for
the 2003-2004 session.

State's Fiscal Future Uncertain

NOVEMBER 2002 - House Speaker Lays It On The Line - House Speaker Thomas Finneran minced no words when addressing 560 Association members at our annual meeting this September.

Looking Back: The Voice Of The Retired Public Employee

25 Years Ago

January 1978
- Massachusetts has become one of the first states in the country to
abolish mandatory retirement. Beginning February 13, 1978 Group 1
employees will no longer be required to retire at age 70. Group 1
employees comprise 75% of the state and local government work force.
Public safety employees will still have a mandatory retirement at age
65.

Governor Michael Dukakis has
submitted his annual budget to the Legislature. The budget contains a
provision and funds for a 5% state and teacher COLA. Whatever COLA
percentage is contained in the final budget will be mandatory
(pre-Proposition 2 1/2) for local retirement systems.

Beginning
this year, disability retirees will be able to earn an additional
$2,000. On November 23, 1977 Governor Dukakis signed a new law (Ch.
766) which permits the disability retiree to earn the difference
between his/her pension and the current salary of the former job, plus
$3,000. Under the old law, the retiree could only earn the difference,
plus $1,000.

A major retirement law
change has been enacted. Chapter 744, which was signed on November 18,
1977, provides that anyone whose public employment commenced on or
after January 1, 1978 must complete ten or more years service in order
to receive a superannuation retirement allowance.

This
law will tighten up the number of future pensioners by preventing
people from coming into the system, working a relatively short period
of time and earning a pension. Although these pensions were usually
small, they did add a burden to the system and frequently involved
employees who had spent most of their lives in other careers.

20 Years Ago

January 1983
- After months of political hardball, Governor Edward J. King signed a
major pension oversight bill into law on January 4, 1983. The bill Ch.
630, Acts 1982, shifted control of the states 104 retirement systems
from the Division of Insurance to a newly created agency, the Division
of Public Employee Retirement Administration (PERA). Upon signing the
bill, the lame duck governor appointed his outgoing chief secretary,
John "Jack" McGlynn to a five-year term as PERA's director.

Newly
elected Governor Michael Dukakis, returning to the Corner Office, filed
a budget containing funds to pay a 3% COLA to state, teacher and local
government retirees. Governor King had eliminated any new COLA funds in
his budgets since the inception of Proposition 2 1/2.

Senate
President William Bulger has appointed Senator Royal Bolling (D-Boston)
as the new Senate Chairman of the Legislature's Public Service
Committee. On the House side, Speaker Thomas McGee has named
Representative Nick Buglione (D-Methuen) to continue as House Chairman
of Public Service.

The Massachusetts
Association of Contributory Retirement Systems (MACRS), in conjunction
with the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
(NCPERS), has stepped up efforts to defeat a Congressional proposal to
institute mandatory Social Security for all states. MACRS President
John McLellan says that mandatory Social Security would kill our
state's current retirement plan. Association President Ralph White has
pledged our support, including financial, in working with MACRS and
NCPERS to defeat mandatory Social Security.

15 Years Ago

January 1988
- Governor Michael Dukakis has submitted his budget to the Legislature
with a 4% cost-of-living provision. The 4% COLA line item was the
result of 8 weeks of negotiations between our Association's leadership
and the Dukakis budget staff, headed by budget chief Frank Keefe. The
$90 million cost includes local retirees as well as state and teachers.
It also includes the state's liability for local COLAs paid since Prop.
2 1/2 became law.

In a surprise
move, the Group Insurance Commission awarded the state's group
insurance contract to the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company.
The vote was 8-2, with our Association's representative on the GIC,
Madeline Sullivan, voting to retain Blue Cross - Blue Shield, which had
a slightly lower bid. Sullivan felt that our members had been well
served by Blue Cross and that out-of-state members would have fewer
claim problems with the widely recognized insurance carrier.

After
a disastrous October 19, 1987 stock market crash known as "Black
Monday", when the Dow dropped 508 points, retirement board officials
remain cautiously optimistic of a rebound. "The market meltdown meant
an end to the five-year bull market but I am confident of the market's
future," said state pension fund (PRIT) advisor Larry Davanzo of
Willshire Consultants.

John O'Malley
of Springfield and John Dow of Marblehead have been reelected to new
four-year terms on the Teachers' Retirement Board. Fred McCray
(Quincy), Paul Fell (Worcester), Dick Avila (Taunton), Jim Cummings
(Malden), Joe Almeida (Fall River), Tony Mastroianni (Milford) and
Harry Bourassa (Franklin County) have all been reelected to new
three-year terms on their retirement boards.

10 Years Ago

January 1993
- In submitting his annual budget to the Legislature Governor William
Weld tagged the Commonwealth's pensions to be a "Budget Buster." Weld
said that he had been able to control growths in all line items except
pensions, which have grown by 33.6% over the past years.

Also
in Weld's budget was a provision that would increase retirees'
insurance premiums contribution by 100%. "Here we go again," said
Association President Ralph White. "We've defeated this legislation in
the past and we'll defeat it again."

New
Committee assignments were announced by House Speaker Charles Flaherty
and Senate President William Bulger. Representative Kevin Blanchette
(D-Lawrence) will continue to be the House Chairman of the key Public
Service Committee. Senator Michael Morrissey (D-Quincy), a former
representative who was elected to the Senate in November, will be the
Public Service Senate Chairman.

Bill
Downey has been reelected to the Bristol County Retirement Board, Joe
McDonough reelected to the Plymouth County Retirement Board and
Cornelia Freeman reelected to the Amesbury Retirement Board.

5 Years Ago

January 1998
- Thirty-seven communities and counties have voted to accept Chapter
17, the new pension COLA law sponsored by our Association. The law,
enacted in the 1997 legislative session, gave full authority to local
government retirement boards to vote for retiree COLAs every year. By
July 1998 Chapter 17 was accepted on behalf of all retirement boards.
The Legislature will vote on state and teacher retirees' COLAs.

The
Group Insurance Commission (GIC) held its first-ever public hearing.
Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel testified on behalf of our
Association. The GIC agreed to implement a $2,000 hearing aid benefit
every two-years. Previously the benefit was $500 every year.

Association
members in northern New England felt the brunt of the "Ice Storm of the
Century" this month. Many of our 2,800 members living in Maine, New
Hampshire and Vermont were without electricity or heat for as long as
12 days.

John Memory (Somerville),
Kevin Regan (Westfield), Franklin Spaulding (Newburyport), Kevin McNeil
(Shrewsbury), John McNamara (Clinton) and Andrew Martin (Fairhaven)
have all been elected to new three-year terms on their respective
retirement boards. Dennis Helmus has been elected to fill a vacant
unexpired term on the Greenfield Retirement Board.

Budget Passes Amid Fiscal Nightmare

SEPTEMBER 2002
- State/Teacher COLA Intact; Insurance Saved - With tax revenues continuing to fall, the Legislature has passed the
$23.4 billion 2003 state budget, which took effect this July 1. Of
great importance to state and teacher retirees is the 3% COLA, which is
contained within the budget.

Walsh Protects Pension Rights

SEPTEMBER 2002
- A protection long-held by public employees in Massachusetts was saved
through the efforts of State Senator Marian Walsh of West Roxbury.

212 Accept Springfield Bonus

SEPTEMBER 2002
- Local Early-Outs Underway - The city of Springfield opened the Commonwealth's optional early
retirement incentive program (Chapter 116) with a bang. By June 21,
which the city had set as the last date for retiring, 212 Springfield
employees had accepted the five-year ERI bonus and were out the door.
Included in this number were 35 firefighters and 19 police officers.Quincy,
which had been the first city to accept Chapter 116, retired an even
100 employees on June 30. Only 4 firefighters and 3 police signed to
accept the five-year offer.

Quincy First To Offer ERI

JULY 2002 - The
City of Quincy had the honor of being the first community in the
Commonwealth to accept Chapter 116, the local government early
retirement incentive plan.