Your Wyoming Public Employees Association Lobbying for You
Our political activities take place year round -- not just during legislative sessions. Several joint and interim committees meet throughout the year. We also attend and testify before the the Compensation Commission and Wyoming Retirement System Board meetings around the state. However, our most effective political action takes place during elections when our members educate and interview candidates. We endorse those that support Public Employees and we can contribute to their elections only through our Political Action Committee. Please consider contributing.
WYOMING PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION RECAP OF BILLS
Public Employee Retirement Bills Fail Introduction
SF0108 would have increased employee and employer contributions, increased the age for normal and early retirement benefits to age 67, and increased the combined years of service and age for normal retirement benefits to the Rule of 90 effective July 1, 2020. It was introduced and passed in the Senate on a vote of 26-3-1-0-0 with Senators Anselmi-Dalton (D), Ellis (R) and Rothfuss (D) voting no.
SF0124 would have changed the reduction from 5% to 7% for each year of retirement prior to the age the members would be eligible for normal retirement. This included the public employees, firefighters, and law enforcement officer plans. It received introduction by a vote of 29-1-0-0-0. Rothfuss (D) was the no vote. The bill passed 3rd reading on a vote of 30-0-0-0-0.
Both bills were assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee. During testimony in committee on SF0108, WPEA's Executive Director and primary lobbyist Betty Jo Beardsley stated that WPEA would support contribution increases, leaving (Tier I) age 60 and Rule of 85 as is to retain employees, and leaving (Tier II) age 65 and Rule of 85 as is to be a valuable recruiting tool for new employees. WPEA would oppose implementation of age 67 and the Rule of 90 as this will cause employers difficulty in retaining and/or recruiting employees. Beardsley appreciated and thanked the Committee and for the continued employee contribution of 5.57% paid by the employer. This was given to employees many years ago instead of salary increase which is a valuable benefit to employees and a cost savings to the State of Wyoming. The retirement benefit helps retain and recruit quality employees.
In the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Hicks (R) amended SF0108 to grandfather Tiers I and II and add Tier III which would be for WRS members employed after August 31, 2020 who has at least four (4) years of service credit and is at least 67 years of age, or the years of service plus age equal the Rule of 90.
The new contribution increase would be added on after the current contribution increase is complete in 2021. SF0108 passed out of committee on a vote of 5-0 and passed the Senate on a 23-7 vote with Senators Anselmi-Dalton (D), Bouchard (R), Ellis (R), Nethercott (R), Rothfuss (D), Schuler(R), and Wasserburger (R) voting no.
As both bills were received in the House, it was WPEA’s hope to kill both bills but we were not confident that we had 30 plus votes. The deadline for bills to be reported out of committee in the second house (March 5th) was fast approaching, Speaker Harshman never introduced and assigned the bills to a committee. Beardsley was delighted to learn that Speaker Harshman was not going to introduce either bill. On behalf of public employees, we want to thank Speaker Harshman for his service and decision making.
The WPEA lobbyists would like to thank all the legislators who supported public employees by voting for their issues, protecting their benefits and for taking time from the busy schedule during this Legislative Session to visit with the WPEA lobbyists.
A special thank you to Ken Decaria who contracted with WPEA as a lobbyist for this Session and was invaluable in our lobbying effort. Finally, a special thanks to all the WPEA members who attended the Legislative Reception sponsored by the Wyoming Education Association (WEA) and the WPEA. Our attendance was exceptional and your interaction with our guest Legislators represented our values well.