Legislative Updates

April 16, 2015 Update #2:

See the message below from Chris Jones.  He's putting out an urgent call for help in Austin on Monday!
HB 2877 by Rep. Phil Stephenson has been set for a hearing on Monday, April 20, 2015 in the House Pension Committee.
Last session when SB 1458 was moving through the legislature, CLEAT asked Rep. Phil King to offer a floor amendment that would maintain the status quo for campus peace officers. The amendment passed the House but was stripped off by the Senate so it never became law   So the changes passed in SB 1458 are what we are living with today.
Providing there are no changes, HB 2877 is a redraft of the CLEAT amendment from 2013.  It simply resets the clock for peace officers in TRS to what they were before the changes.  In my opinion, it is like placing a Band-Aid on a compound fracture.  It would not create the 20 year retirement eligibility or increase the multiplier to 2.8% like HB 2933 would do.
And here is the kicker, it could give legislators an excuse to vote for this bill instead of HB 2933.  That would be better than nothing, but not fix the problem we see that exists today.
Our plan had always been to try and move HB 2933 through the process and consider a fall back to the law before 2013 only if we got stuck or when there were no other options.  By throwing this option on the table now, you assume the risk that legislators will take the easy way out.
We have been told that there is support on the committee for HB 2933.  The chairman is concerned about the fiscal note, but we have made changes that will substantially lower the cost to the state because those affected have expressed a willingness to pay for the better benefits and retirement eligibility by funding it with an increased contribution rate.
We need to make a decision whether to support HB 2877 or instead push the committee to vote out HB 2933.
I would like to see a good number of you in Austin on Monday morning.  I would like to have a meeting at the CLEAT office at 9am and discuss the options on this bill.  Based on what we decide, I would then like to give those who show up assignments on who to visit with throughout the day until the Pension Committee meets in the afternoon.
Those of you who can’t be in Austin, please call Chairman Flynn’s office and ask him to support the committee substitute for HB 2933.

 


 

April 16, 2015 Update #1:

Update, copied below is an email from Chris Jones concerning a House Pension Committee meeting:

 

HB 2877 by Rep. Phil Stephenson has been set for a hearing on Monday, April 20, 2015 in the House Pension Committee.

Last session when SB 1458 was moving through the legislature, CLEAT asked Rep. Phil King to offer a floor amendment that would maintain the status quo for campus peace officers. The amendment passed the House but was stripped off by the Senate so it never became law   So the changes passed in SB 1458 are what we are living with today.

Providing there are no changes, HB 2877 is a redraft of the CLEAT amendment from 2013.  It simply resets the clock for peace officers in TRS to what they were before the changes.  In my opinion, it is like placing a Band-Aid on a compound fracture.  It would not create the 20 year retirement eligibility or increase the multiplier to 2.8% like HB 2933 would do.

And here is the kicker, it could give legislators an excuse to vote for this bill instead of HB 2933.  That would be better than nothing, but not fix the problem we see that exists today.

Our plan had always been to try and move HB 2933 through the process and consider a fall back to the law before 2013 only if we got stuck or when there were no other options.  By throwing this option on the table now, you assume the risk that legislators will take the easy way out.

We have been told that there is support on the committee for HB 2933.  The chairman is concerned about the fiscal note, but we have made changes that will substantially lower the cost to the state because those affected have expressed a willingness to pay for the better benefits and retirement eligibility by funding it with an increased contribution rate.

We need to make a decision whether to support HB 2877 or instead push the committee to vote out HB 2933.

I would like to see a good number of you in Austin on Monday morning.  I would like to have a meeting at the CLEAT office at 9am and discuss the options on this bill.  Based on what we decide, I would then like to give those who show up assignments on who to visit with throughout the day until the Pension Committee meets in the afternoon.

Those of you who can’t be in Austin, please call Chairman Flynn’s office and ask him to support the committee substitute for HB 2933.


 

April 12, 2015: 

An email from Chris Jones with CLEAT:

I wanted to provide those of you who have expressed an interest with an update on our efforts to fix the pension disparity for campus peace officers in TRS.
As you know, two bills that CLEAT asked to be filed were heard by the House Pensions Committee a few weeks ago.  An article about that hearing and links to watch that hearing online can be found here:
Since that hearing, I have been working with the bill authors on changes (committee substitute) to both HB 1821 and HB 2933.  Here is where we stand.  We have asked to remove TRS officers from HB 1821 and that bill only address other state peace officers within ERS.  HB 2933 will address the pensions of university and school district officers.  We have had to address a number of concerns that TRS had about this bill and I have been working with Jeff Miller out of Rep. Anderson’s office to get this done. We had to make sure that the bill was funded and would not negatively impact TRS.
On Thursday of this week we received the substitute back and are working to get the House Pensions Committee to vote the bill out.
I have attached the substitute and here is a “readers digest” summary of what it does.
· Removes the supplemental fund because the TRS & LBB had issues creating a new fund without funding it and making it actuarially sound.
· All benefits would be paid out of the main fund which is already funded and actuarially sound. The bill would basically create a new tier for peace officers only with the eligibility for a full retirement being:
1)    10 years at age 55
2)    20 years at any age
· Full retirement benefits are paid at age 57 if the officer has reached the rule of 80. Officers can retire sooner than age 57 if they have reached the rule of 80 but the pension would be reduced 5% for each year they retire sooner than 57.
· Officers would be eligible for the 2.8% multiplier only if they have 20 years as a peace officer in TRS.  Retirement with less than 20 years of service as a peace officer would be at 2.3%.
· Applies to all officers, current and future.
· Officers would contribute 9.5% of salary after December 31, 2015.  This matches what ERS employees will be paying if HB 9 passes this session.
· Employers would contribute an additional 1% of salary.
There was some concern about moving HB 2933 until HB 2877 by Rep. Stephenson was heard by the committee.  The Stephenson bill was simply a redraft of the CLEAT amendment added on the House Floor to SB 1458 in 2013 which would have left everything the same for TRS peace officers. But that amendment was stripped off the bill in the Senate and as you know, that resulted in the changes that basically require officers to work until age 62 for a full retirement.
It should be noted that if HB 2933 moves out of committee then Rep. Stephenson’s bill would be moot.  Again, HB 2877, the Stephenson bill simply puts TRS peace officers back to the point they were before the last session with regard to retirement eligibility.  HB 2933 does that as well and more. HB 2933 not only lowers the age back to 57 for full retirement benefits but also allows for a 2.8% multiplier after 20 years of service. We are up against the clock with only 6 weeks left to consider bills.
We are pushing for HB 2933 to be voted out this week, and maybe as early as tomorrow when the committee meets.
We will keep you posted.

 

March 26, 2015:

Copied below is an email from Chris Jones concerning our pension bills.  We now have a hearing date for our bills next Monday.

Chris has asked that anyone able to attend do so.  He also states that it would be extremely helpful to have chiefs, assistant chiefs, and/or deputy chiefs there to speak to the need of campus cops having a peace officer retirement -  especially as it pertains to recruitment and retention.  If you can make it to Austin, please let us know so we can let Chris know and provide you with instructions.

 

Below is the email from Chris:

 

The House Pensions Committee has set two bills we drafted on behalf of university and school district officers and one for state officers who are not in LECOS.
The bills provide two options that are seeking to improve the pension benefits for these two groups of officers.
I want everyone to know that we are working to obtain the best results possible.  Ideally, we would like for all officers to obtain LECOS benefits for all of their current and future years of service, or for campus officers to receive these benefits in a LECOS type system within TRS.  I have heard from a number of officers who have expressed concerns about HB 1821 because it doesn’t give officers credit in LECOS for their prior years of service.  Doing this has a cost and getting the committee on board with the state funding this cost is a challenge because of the current status of ERS in general.
We need general support for both of these bills with the argument that something needs to be done to correct the pension disparity these officers face and the problems this disparity causes with the hiring of new officers and retaining experienced ones.
Rest assured we will shoot for the moon, but the legislative process is a system of compromise.  We want to make sure that we don’t end up shooting ourselves in the foot instead with an “all or nothing” attitude.
If you can be in Austin for the hearing next Monday, it would be very much appreciated.  Though the hearing is scheduled for 2pm, it will not begin until after the Texas House adjourns for the day. When that will be depends on the length of the days calendar and if they take up any controversial bills that cause long debate or amendments.  If I had to guess, the hearing could start as early as 3pm or as late as 6pm, but it could be even later than that.
House Pensions (PUBLIC HEARING)  New - 12:42pm
MONDAY - 3/30/15
2:00 P.M. OR ADJ., E2.028
HB 1821   Alonzo, Roberto Relating to eligibility for membership and funding of benefits for certain law enforcement, custodial, and other peace officers.
General Remarks: CLEAT BILL: Provides a method for state peace officers not in LECOS and university and school district officers in TRS to move into LECOS. New hires would start immediately in LECOS. Current officers would have a proportional retirement with a portion coming from service credit earned previously and the rest coming from LECOS for future service.  Least expensive option to get officers into LECOS and provide a better pension than they have now.
HB 2933   Anderson, Rodney Relating to retirement benefits for certain peace officers who are members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, including the creation of a peace officer supplemental retirement fund.
General Remarks: CLEAT BILL: Creates LECOS type supplemental fund and peace officer retirement within TRS for campus peace officers.  Applies to current and future officers.
Officer would be able to retire at age 57 with 2.8% multiplier.  This bill will be very expensive to implement.  We have several proposals in the works to fund the increased benefits, depending what the Legislative Budget Board fiscal note is on the cost.

 


 

March 12, 2015:

March 23 Campus Officer Lobby Day!

Please print and post the flyer within your department.  Feel free to pass this email on to other campus police personnel.

If you are going to attend please wear business casual clothing.  If you want to wear something with POLICE on it, make sure it's generic and does not have your agency's name on it.  Most agencies have a policy about lobbying under the color of their agency.
This is a very important event on the road to securing a better pension.  Let us know who is attending so we will have a roster.

The Flyer for the event can be found here:

TSPA CAPITOL FLYER

 


March 11, 2015:

 

Rep. Rodney Anderson has filed HB 2933 at the request of CLEAT
This bill would create a peace officer retirement plan within TRS that mirrors LECOS in ERS.  The bill can be read online here:
Other information about the bill can be found here:
We will have more information soon.

 


March 7, 2015:

Linked below is the initial draft of legislation that would allow any peace officer that is employed by a state agency not in LECOS and any peace officer in TRS to move to LECOS for future service. New employees would start in LECOS from Day 1.  Officers would freeze their service in their current pension system and then when they retire, they would draw a proportional retirement from both systems based on accrued service credit in each.

Please read the bill and let us know your thoughts.

Officer Proportional ERS Preliminary