One of RPEN's chief functions is to educate state and local governments regarding issues that affect retired public employees.
Some of RPEN's efforts have contributed to constitutional protections of our PERS system, post-retirement increases to retiree pension benefits and an awareness of the importance of a solvent, sound retirement system.
One of the biggest concerns of retirees is health care issues related to the state's Public Employees' Benefits Program (PEBP) and other local government health insurance plans.
RPEN advocates on behalf of retired public employees at regular and special sessions of the state Legislature and at interim hearings between legislative sessions.
RPEN LEGISLATIVE ALERTS
79TH SESSION OF THE
NEVADA STATE LEGISLATURE
PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW:
Thank you for your continued membership and support of RPEN, and if you know of someone who is not yet a member of RPEN, please encourage them to join now! Strength in Numbers is never more important than during a legislative session!
Terri Laird, Executive Director
2017 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
79th Session of the Nevada State Legislature Began February 6
Sine die has come and gone! Working late in the the wee hours as a new day dawned June 5, differences over education and marijuana were overcome and the 79th Session of the Nevada State Legislature is now a thing of the past, having ended right around midnight, if not a bit past on the Senate side. However, as we reported here earlier, the Education Savings Account issue will not happen this session, though proponents say it will be their number one issue in 2019! Capital improvements AND taxes on recreational marijuana were also agreed upon and the Governor held bill signing ceremonies in his office between leaders from both parties late in the afternoon June 5.
SB 502 IS SIGNED BY GOVERNOR SANDOVAL JUNE 2 AND BECOMES EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017!
SB 384, RPEN'S PRIVACY BILL, GETS VETOED BY GOVERNOR SANDOVAL
The veto came late in the afternoon on Saturday, June 3. It was a blow for retired public employees but RPEN fought hard to get the issue brought to a vote in both houses this session. Sparks Senator Julia Ratti carried the bill for us, after the subject came up during the 2015 session by the late Senator Debbie Smith. The bill was amended late in the session on the advice from officials in the Governor's office who said he would consider supporting it if the "name" were listed as public information rather than an "identitfying number". Unfortunately, it didn't work. In his veto statement, Sandoval said " The goal of protecting public employee information from misuse was a worthy endeavor but making certain information (number of years of service credit and retirement date secret wasn't the way to go". He said "But SB 384 seeks to achieve its goals by limiting the public's right to access public information, upsetting the established balance between privacy and transparency. In decided how to balance these competing interests, the public's right to know cannot be compromised absent a compelling case that such limits are justified and in the public interest. SB 384 does not overcome the significant test in favor of less transparency. Although the proponents raised the possibility of identity theft, there is no assurance that SB 384 would actually prevent such risk".
Ironically, this is the exact argument used against the bill from the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) as they took the Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) to court for access to this information in District Court earlier this year. And now it appears as though the case will be decided once and for all on appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court when it is heard later this month.
Earlier in the week there was apparently a lot of closed door negotiations leading up to a hearing late on Memorial Day to consider SB 506, the Governor's proposal to allocate $60 million for the Education Savings Account (ESA). Those talks broke down following that initial hearing leading to a budget breakdown on the Senate Floor Thursday (June 1) where a vote on a recreational marijuana tax bill was rejected after two tries for not gaining the constitutional 2/3 vote of approval. Ironically that bill was projected to generate $60 million for public education. That rejection led to a party line vote against all other budget bills up for consideration that evening. Since the first hearing SB 506 has not come up again, and Governor Sandoval continues to veto many other bills that impact public employees.
Then, during an evening meeting of the Senate Finance Committee two other bills RPEN will be watching very closely are SB 551 and SB 552. SB 551 is the subsidy bill that comes before the legislature every two years, and determines the state's contribution to active employees and retired state employees relating to their health insurance through the Public Employees' Benefits Program (PEBP). SB 552 deals with the appropriation agreed to by the Senate last month to set up a 4 year plan of financially assistance for the "orphan" non-state PEBP participants. This dwindling group of non-state PEBP participants have faced escalating health care costs due to the fact that their pool is so small...and will never get any bigger. RPEN has been trying for several sessions to get the Legislature to address this issue and so we are happy to see the Governor agreed with this bill. Both of these bills received unanimous approval before the full Senate and while heard on the Assembly Floor, SB 551 was uanimously approved but SB 552 received 4 "nay" votes, from Lisa Krasner (Reno), John Ellison (Elko) and Jim Merchant and Richard McArthur (Las Vegas). Both have also been approved and signed by the Governor a few days after the session ended.
The legislative website is http://www.leg.state.nv.us/ and once you are on the homepage you can peruse the site for lots of valuable information including the daily meeting schedule, the names and contact information of all legislators, and the ever popular "share your opinion" page where you can leave a comment on two of the bills we are currently watching very closely.
We encourage our members to visit our website on a regular basis, especially during the legislative session, as we will be posting regular "Legislative Updates/Alerts" throughout the 120 day session.
Now that you know about some of our issues going into the 79th Session of the Nevada State Legislature, perhaps you would like to reach out to your elected officials in one way or another, but don't know how to do so. Our Lead Lobbyist/Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard wants to help! Through her lobbying agency, The Lockard Group, she has prepared a list of helpful lobbying tips. To view this document, please click on the link below:
RPEN often sends out emails and notices through different channels to our members when we need to "pack" a meeting room when our issues are being heard at the Legislature, and by reviewing Marlene's well thought out document, you will be ready when the need arises!
While many of the "reform" bills involving PERS did NOT make the first deadline, April 14, when they had to pass out of the committee of origin, we will remain alert until the end of the session to see if something else pops up before the scheduled June 5 sine die. We have to be on alert because the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) is not likely to stop their assault on Nevada PERS, in spite of the fact that PERS is continually ranked high among its' peers. The first link below from NPRI features a 121 page report they released in February in advance of the opening day at the Legislature, called "Solutions 2017" that outlines their legislative agenda. That agenda once again includes more reforms they want to see happen at the Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) that have already been mentioned in our legislative reports, as well as tried and failed at the 2015 Legislative Session. The NPRI recommendations for PERS this session are outlined on pages 26-33 of this report.
Another NPRI piece put out in April 2016 from NPRI was a fundraising solicitation letter to its members that can also be read by clicking another link below.
Another piece being circulated by NPRI through their website, www.npri.org is called "Footprints" that also takes aim at "reforming" Nevada's Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). It is quite lengthy, and not only takes aim at PERS but at Nevada lawmakers through the years who NPRI says failed to take enough action regarding PERS and the "reforms" they think should have been made long ago.
It is also worth mentioning that NPRI filed a lawsuit this year against NV PERS seeking additional personal identifying information from retired public employees, over and above the information that is already posted at their website transparentnevada.com. RPEN is very much opposed to any further release of personal, identifying information such as home addresses, beneficiaries, social security numbers, etc. and we will be seeking assistance from the Nevada State Legislature to prevent such access.
As mentioned previously RPEN will be at the Legislature from day one. We will also be posting updates during the session on our website, as well as emailing Legislative Alerts to our members. If you are NOT yet a member of RPEN, why not? If you would like to join RPEN, there is not a better time than the present to do so. Membership applications are available on our website under "How to Join". It's only $60.00 per year to join, payable by a monthly PERS deduction or through cash, check or money order, as well as an ACH (Automated Clearing House) deduction from your personal account. There is STRENGTH in numbers!!
"SHARE YOUR OPINION" LINK TO THE NEVADA STATE LEGISLATURE
Until the Legislative Session closes on June 5, you will have access to this "Share Your Opinion" page at the legislative web-site where you can post your opinion of a bill RPEN is watching as well as post whether you are for or against this bill. To access this page at the Nevada Legislative website, you can click on the link below:
Updated June 12, 2017