WRS News Online

Legislative Update

Tarna Hunter
Tarna Hunter

by Tarna Hunter, ETF Legislative Liaison
Several bills affecting the Wisconsin Retirement System were introduced in the 2015-2016 session. The bills that have had recent activity are briefly described below, along with links to the proposal’s status. Note: the scheduled floor period ended November 5, 2015 and the next floor period is set for January 12, 2016. Therefore, no action will be taken on these bills during the remainder of calendar year 2015, unless it is done in an extraordinary session..

2015 AB 156 and 2015 SB 134 provide municipalities interested in participating in the WRS the option to join and only bring in newly hired employees while allowing current employees to finish their careers under their existing retirement plan.

Status: The Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs passed 2015 AB 156, as amended, on a unanimous vote. The Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems (JSCRS) held an executive session on November 4 and concluded that AB 156, SB 134, and amendments were good public policy. Learn more: status, amendments, actions, links, history on AB156 and SB 134.

2015 SB 312 and 2015 AB 394 require the Group Insurance Board to submit all proposed changes to public employee group health insurance programs to the Joint Committee on Finance (JCF). The GIB may not implement any changes in the group health insurance programs unless approved by JCF through a 21-day passive review process.

Status: The JCF held a public hearing and executive session on the bills in October and subsequently passed both bills. The Assembly passed the bill 90-2 and on November 6 the Seante passed an ammendment to this bill.The bill now goes to the Assembly. Learn more: status, actions, links, history on SB 312 and AB 394.

2015 AB 397 and 2015 SB 329 increase the minimum retirement age for all employees by two years. This change would only apply to WRS participants who are under age 40 on the effective date of the bill.

Status: 2015 AB 397 was referred to both the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations and the JSCRS. 2015 SB 329 was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform. Learn more: status, actions, links, history on AB 397 and SB 329.

2015 AB 398 and 2015 SB 328 change the formula method for calculating a WRS retirement benefit from three to five years. Under current law, a formula benefit is based on the average of the three highest years of earnings. Under the bill, a formula benefit would be based on the average of the five highest years of earnings. This change would take effect five years after the effective date of the bill.

Status: 2015 AB 398 was referred to both the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations and the JSCRS. 2015 SB 328 was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform. Learn more: status, actions, links, history on AB 398 and SB 328.

2015 AB 233 and 2015 SB 183 eliminates sick leave for state representatives and state senators. Under the bill, the current accumulated sick leave balances of legislators would not be affected. The bill would not make any changes to the state’s sick leave conversion credit programs.

Status: In September, the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection held a public hearing and executive session and recommended passage 4-1. Learn more: status, actions, links, history on AB 233 and SB 183.

2015 AB 361 and 2015 SB 278 would require the GIB, beginning on January 1, 2018, to make the optional insurance plans available to local government employers. The local government employers that participate in the program must establish payroll deductions for the employees to pay the premiums.

Status: In October, the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs held a public hearing and an executive session, recommending passage 9-0. Learn more: status, actions, links, history on AB 361 and SB 278.

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