Thursday, May 21, 2009

House takes Action on Retirement Bills-By Robyn Ekings

The Louisiana House on Wednesday (May 20th) sent a bill that would grant a minimum benefit increase to certain retirees, beneficiaries, and survivors on to the Senate for debate.

HB 586 by Representative Jean Doerge of Minden would increase the minimum benefit for those affected who receive a monthly benefit of less than $1200 a month. Other requirements for qualification include 30 or more years of service credit, excluding unused leave: retired for 15 or more years; at least 60 years of age and did not participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) or Initial Benefit Option (IBO). The plan is supported by the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System (LASERS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL).

A second retirement bill authored by Representative Doerge went down to defeat Wednesday on the House floor.

HB 290 allowed a retiree to select his/her current spouse as a beneficiary for the purpose of any supplemental retirement benefit if a former spouse was selected as a beneficiary upon his/her initial retirement. Opponents argued that the exception to the current beneficiary law for one person would open the door to allowing many retirees to change a selection that once made, is irrevocable.

Ruston representative Hollis Downs told the House “As nice as we’d like to be, this flies in the face of actuarial science of public pension systems. We can’t go and apply pension legislation that affects one person when it could eventually apply to hundreds of thousands of people over time.” The bill was defeated in a 39-51 vote. The LASERS Board of Trustees opposed the measure.

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