Legislative Information Committee
Cindy Spanyers, Director
The Legislative Information Committee monitors pending legislation that might affect retirees in the PERS, TRS and JRS retirement systems, updating the Executive Board on a regular basis.
End of Session Bill Status
Since the beginning of the legislative session, the RPEA legislative committee has met regularly to discuss important issues pertaining to retirees and related subjects. The committee tracked several pertinent bills and the budget to ensure our benefits are protected. Here is an update on the status of select legislation:
SB 55 Employer Contributions to PERS passed the Senate and the House unanimously. It removes the 22 percent cap on the payroll contribution to PERS for the State of Alaska. The intention of the bill is to reduce the general fund cost of employee retirement by increasing the share received from federal and other funds in order to pay those costs. The administration estimates a savings of about $25 million over time.
SJR 12 urges congress to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security Act. After hearing excellent public testimony from educators and public employees, the Senate State Affairs Committee moved the measure with Chair Mike Showers signing do pass. It is now in the Senate Finance Committee. SJR 12 is sponsored by Senators Bill Wielechowski, Scott Kawasaki, Elvi Gray-Jackson, and Jesse Kiehl.
HB 55 establishes a new Tier V for Peace Officers and Firefighters. It passed the House with 25 yes votes and is now in Senate Labor and Commerce.
In a related development, the Senate Education Committee heard a related presentation on expanding a PERS Tier V (and TRS Tier IV) to all public employees in early May. A link to this report, made to Representative Chris Tuck, is: http://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=32&docid=26534
New legislation to grant all public employees the option of a defined benefit or the current defined contribution was introduced in the last days of the session. HB 220 is sponsored by Representative Grier Hopkins with cosponsors Representatives Drummond, Story, and Fields.
SB 30, sponsored by Senator Tom Begich, requires group health insurance covering certain public retirees to include coverage for colorectal cancer screening. No hearings were held on it during the session and it remains in the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.
SB 93 is sponsored by the Governor and would establish an all-payer claims database. It is in Senate Finance while the companion bill, HB 113, is in the House Labor and Commerce Committee.
The special session began Thursday, May 20th, and will address rhe budget. Both bodies passed HB 69 and have appointed a conference committee to negotiate the differences which mainly revolve around the size of the permanent fund dividend.
Legislation not passed during this session will remain active next year.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please email .
At the beginning of 2021, Legislative Finance and Legislative Research collaborated on an extensive informational paper on Alaska’s Public Retirement Systems. The paper outlines the history of PERS and TRS since statehood, including the Constitutional protections in Article XII, Section 7. It also delves into the escalating unfunded liabilities at a time when managing payments is becoming increasingly challenging in the present fiscal environment.
In FY21, the state contributed $345.6 million into the funds, approximately 7% of the unrestricted general funds. What are the options for ensuring our pensions are secure?
Here is the link to this important document:
Legislative Informational Paper 21-2 — Alaska's Public Retirement System