Legislation

Articles about Legislation that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees.

Association Gears Up For 2000 Session

JANUARY 2000 - Legislative Package Poised For Action - With
the passage of the FY 2000 State Budget now finalized, the focus on
Beacon Hill will now turn towards the several thousand individual bills
pending before the Legislature. As we reported in the November Voice,
the extended battle over the budget had caused action on most other
matters to be put on hold.

Cellucci Loses Key Budget Aide

NOVEMBER 1999 - Keel Heads To Harvard Pilgrim - Governor
Paul Cellucci has lost another valuable fiscal aide to the state’s
largest health maintenance organization (HMO). Kristen Keel, the
undersecretary for the Executive Office of Administration and Finance,
left the Administration on October 1 to become the budget director of
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Pension Errors Bill Nears Passage

NOVEMBER 1999 - Boards May Waive Repayments - Ever
since House and Senate budget negotiators became deadlocked in their
deliberations over the FY 2000 State Budget, our Association’s
legislative team has patiently attempted to shepherd numerous
retirement bills through the Committee process. Association lobbyists
have continued to meet with legislative staff members to keep our
legislative package fresh in their minds.

State House Busy Despite Budget Delay

NOVEMBER 1999 - Work Continues On Retirement Legislation - To
many, the fact that the FY 2000 State Budget is four months overdue
would mean that not much work was getting done under the golden dome
atop Beacon Hill. With the legislative leaders locked in daily
negotiations, how can anything else get done?

Focus On Early Retirement

SEPTEMBER 1999 - Long-Term Employees May Benefit - Within
days of going to press with our July edition of the Voice, the
Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Service unexpectedly released a
comprehensive early retirement bill which would affect nearly all
public employees.

Maine Pension Tax Exemption Vetoed

SEPTEMBER 1999 - 766 Mass Retirees Subject To Maine Tax - Public employees of the State of Maine have again been unsuccessful in repealing Maine's law that taxes their pension.

State Police Disability Bill Moving

SEPTEMBER 1999 - Since
the passage of the last controversial disability law (Chapter 306, Acts
of 1996) over 2 1/2 years ago, we've reported on countless bills,
including our Association's H-305 (see January Voice), that deal with
disability retirees returning to work. While a technical corrections
bill (Chapter 427, Acts of 1996) was passed right after Chapter 306's
enactment, no other major piece of legislation, on disability retirees'
returning to work, has been passed.

Member Organizes Effort In North Carolina

SEPTEMBER 1999 - Pushes To Restore Tax Break On Mass Pensions - Recently we reported on states that have a reciprocal agreement with the Commonwealth not to tax thepensions of Mass retirees, now living in that state and we would not
tax the public pensions of their retirees residing here (May Voice). Unfortunately this list does not include every state that has an income tax law and could tax public pensions.

Legislative Team Ready For Action

SEPTEMBER 1999 - With
the first quarter of legislative action now complete, our Association's
legislative lobbying team is well poised to hit the halls of the State
House when the General Court reconvenes in September. To date, several
Association bills have progressed through the Committee process.

"So
far so good", says Legislative Chairman Bill Hill in describing the
Association's early legislative success. "We have seventeen months left
to go in this session and I'm confident that we will continue our early
success. However, nothing is ever guaranteed."

Of
the fifteen bills in the Association's package, eleven remain in active
status. The four remaining bills are being studied by the Committee on
Public Service.

A handful of bills
seem to have generated a great deal of interest from a number of
legislators. They are H-319 (pension errors), H-351 (state life
insurance), S-1283 (insurance reinstatement), S-1588 (noncontributory
taxes), and S-1815 (right to remarry).

Budget Process Continues

Action
on Beacon Hill slowed down considerably through July and August as key
members of the House and Senate leadership teams engaged in
negotiations over the FY 2000 Budget. As is noted in the COLA article,
the state's annual fiscal blueprint has been delayed for the past two
months as the House and Senate debate in conference committee.

State
House observers cite deep philosophical differences as to the scope and
size of a potential state tax cut package. House members are interested
in reducing the overall tax rate, while members of the Senate support a
narrow "targeted" tax cut focusing on low income taxpayers.

Also
hanging in the balance is the so called "rule of 90" teachers' early
retirement plan. Similar versions of the proposal passed the House and
Senate and are being finalized by the conference committee. However,
Governor Paul Cellucci is on record stating his intention to veto the
proposal due to its cost and the possible negative impact it may have
on local school districts.

Early Retirement Moves To Front Burner?

JULY 2, 1999 - Public Service Creates Stir With Unexpected Bill - On
Tuesday, June 22, the Joint Committee on Public Service created quite a
stir with public employees and their State House lobbyists when the
Committee unexpectedly released an omnibus early retirement bill
covering nearly all public employees.