Oregon’s Public Servants are on the Front Lines
June 5, 2017 UPDATE
The PERS Coalition has continued to meet and is discussing continued responses to PERS “reform” efforts. ORCOPS has been attending and scheduling meetings with various legislators in order to dampen efforts to cut into benefits. With the Governor’s recent assembly of a task force to work on pension costs, and some legislators’ insistence that PERS “reforms” be a part of this session’s endgame, this issue is as relevant as ever. However, the Governor has kept the task force’s mission relatively broad (decrease the unfunded liabilities by $5 billion) without specifying a particular course of action. This allows the Governor, and the Legislature, the flexibility to either target benefits or simply pursue passive reforms that would not affect benefits (such as restructuring the investment administration model). It will therefore be incredibly important for PERS Coalition members and ORCOPS (the only representation of local law enforcement officers in the coalition) to continuously persuade Legislators and the task force to focus on the latter.
May 19, 2017 UPDATE
Now that the “end game” negotiations are in full swing, the latest plan, put forth by Senator Mark Hass (D – Beaverton) includes corporate tax increases on sales volume and offsets to mitigate that effect on consumers with tax breaks on personal income tax. Governor Kate Brown (D) has asked for a panel to be assembled to make recommendations on PERS legislation for the 2018 legislative session (presumably in lieu of passing anything PERS-related this session). She has already indicated an interest in exploring pension obligation borrowing (which was somewhat successful in past low-interest-rate environments), additional employee contributions, and in-sourcing of State Treasury investment functions.
May 12, 2017 UPDATE
Although some other ORCOPS-supported measures, such as a PERS fix for OHSU officers, were not able to beat the initial session deadlines, ORCOPS is waiting for an opportunity to amend these concepts into broader pieces of legislation. It is not uncommon for the last weeks of the legislative session to see “omnibus” bills that contain a number of different elements as a result of last-minute deals.
Lastly, even though the bulk of the ill-intentioned PERS “reform” measures did not pass, we remain cautious because they, too, might be resurrected as amendments if we’re not vigilant. We should not count on the Supreme Court to protect our pension agreements, so we have been holding the line in the Capitol alongside other public sector employees.
April 21, 2017 UPDATE
Other measures that were blocked due in part to ORCOPS’ work include several promise-breaking PERS “reforms;” a measure that would have restricted officers from using “trickery” or “artifice” (their words!) in interviewing suspects; and a measure that would have prohibited minors from waiving their right to counsel. It should be noted that several measures (including a different PERS “reform” measure that would revamp how final average salary is calculated) were moved to their respective chambers’ Rules Committees “without recommendation.” This is generally a courtesy to a member who doesn’t have the votes to pass their measure, but the maneuver keeps the measure alive past the deadline date. However, the “without recommendation” designation is an indication that the measure is not likely to garner support. However, it is important to remember that in this legislative session, the Legislature is looking to strike deals on a revenue package and a transportation package, and as those negotiations occur, ORCOPS will be wary that absolutely any bill might be brought to the negotiation table. So, we will stay vigilant!
April 10, 2017 UPDATE
ORCOPS had a fruitful meeting on PERS “reform” with Senator Steiner-Hayward (D – Portland/Beaverton), who seemed to indicate support of ORCOPS’ position on protecting and respecting the State’s pension promises. ORCOPS is the only member of the pension-defending PERS Coalition representing local law enforcement officers.
ORCOPS is pleased to report that Senate Bill 712 unanimously passed the Senate Workforce Committee this past week, with some amendments. The bill provides PERS time credit for officers who are injured on duty and receive workers’ compensation benefits, and fixes a serious inequity within Tier-3 PERS (OPSRP) where someone injured on the job and collecting workers comp currently doesn’t receive service credit for the period between the injury and their return to work.
Lastly, HB 2674, which would fix an oversight in the extension of PERS to OHSU’s police officers, was not scheduled for a hearing, even after OHSU and ORCOPS came to an agreement on the policy. Although the measure was very narrow in scope and effect, the House leadership refused any and all measures that would expand PERS, even so slightly, under fear that it would impede other negotiations. ORCOPS will continue to pursue the measure as an amendment.
March 31, 2017 UPDATE
Public pension “reform” discussions are still underway. As the only representatives of local line officers and deputies on the pension-defending PERS Coalition, ORCOPS has been coordinating meetings with other coalition members. If any law enforcement officers are interested in coming down to Salem to meet with legislators on this issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate that with our team in Salem.
March 25, 2017 UPDATE
ORCOPS made sure to publicly back SB 712, which provides PERS time credit for officers who are injured on duty and receive workers’ compensation benefits. This bill fixes a serious inequity within tier-3 PERS (OPSRP) where someone injured on the job and collecting workers comp currently doesn’t receive time credit for the period between the injury and their return to work. ORCOPS joined with the Oregon State Fire Fighters Council and the Oregon State Police Officers Association to testify in favor of this. State Trooper Nic Cederberg and Fire Fighter Council member Peter St. John provided some riveting testimony that we hope will lead to the quick passage of SB 712. This bill and Rep. Margaret Doherty’s (D – Tigard) HB 2646 are identical, but SB 712 seems to be the one that will go through, with HB 2646 held in reserve in case it becomes necessary.
Finally, as PERS discussions continue, you can use this tool to calculate the hit on your PERS retirement under the so-called PERS “reform” bills circulating through the Legislature.
Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks on PERS “reforms” as well as resolution on profiling policies.
March 15, 2017
ORCOPS is actively monitoring PERS discussions, during this 2017 session, including Senate Bills 559, 560, and 913. As the largest law enforcement representative in the PERS Coalition, we are advocating tirelessly to ensure our legislators honor the pension promises made to our members. The most popular of these so-called “reform” items include capping final average salary at $100,000; changing the final average salary calculation from a high three-year to a high-five year period; and redirecting employee contributions to IAP accounts to the general pension plan. From the standpoint of our members, all three are “non-starters,” especially given the sweeping, detrimental effect to existing PERS members and future law enforcement officers. The PERS discussions will ramp up over the next two weeks, and we’ll update you as these so-called “PERS reform” bills make their way through committees.