WRS News Online

Legislative Update

by Tarna Hunter, ETF Legislative Liaison

Tarna Hunter
Tarna Hunter

As of WRS News Online publication deadlines, the following legislation affects the benefit programs of the Wisconsin Retirement System.

Legislation Passed

Group Health Insurance: Self-Insurance
2015 Act 119, provides that the Group Insurance Board, in consultation with the state’s Division of Personnel Management, notify the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance if it intends to execute a contract to provide self-insured group health plans on a regional or statewide basis.

Background: Last November the board’s consultant presented a number of high-level recommendations for the group health insurance program in 2017, one of which was to transition from the current fully-insured model to a self-insured model, beginning in 2018. The recommendations will be the subject of further discussion by the board in early 2016. Stay informed by reviewing the board meeting schedules, board meeting materials and agendas, found on our website.

Delay of Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac Tax”
On December 18, 2015 President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Act), which, among other things, delays the onset of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac Tax” until 2020. In addition, the Act requires the controller general to study the suitable benchmarks for age and gender adjustments to the tax.

Legislation Pending

2015 Assembly Bill 156 and 2015 Senate Bill 134 provide municipalities interested in participating in the Wisconsin Retirement System the option to join and only enroll in the WRS newly-hired employees, while allowing current employees to finish their careers under their existing retirement plan. Amendments that would allow employers the option to offer current employees the choice of becoming participating employees were proposed. In November the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems concluded the bills and the amendments were good public policy.

2015 SB 45 and 2015 AB 70 create the Wisconsin Private Retirement Security Board, which must establish a private retirement security plan to provide retirement benefits for residents of the state who choose to participate in the plan. The board would be created within the Department of Employee Trust Funds by Chapter 15 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The bill provides that no moneys from the public employee trust fund may be expended for activities required by this bill. The Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform held a public hearing on the bills in December. Find the recording on Wisconsin Eye.

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