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Department of Employee Trust Funds
March 2, 2016

Legislative Update: New Laws Affect the WRS

This week, Governor Walker signed into law the following bills, which affect ETF and the Wisconsin Retirement System:

2015 Act 174 provides municipalities interested in participating in the Wisconsin Retirement System the option to join and only bring in newly-hired employees while allowing current employees to finish their careers under their existing retirement plan.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Permits an employer to elect to participate in the WRS and choose to only bring in employees hired on or after the date that the employer elects to participate in the WRS. Employees hired before the date of election would not participate in the WRS.
  • Permits the municipal employer the option to offer current employees a one-time choice of becoming participating employees in the WRS.
  • Permits any municipal employer that elects to be included under the above provision to exclude its public utility employees.


2015 Act 187 makes the following remedial changes to the WRS and the operation of ETF. The changes clarify current law or codify current practice. These technical changes may require minor modifications to procedures and forms for members and employers, but do not make substantive changes.

The following changes are included in this legislation:

  • Clarifies the treatment and uses of moneys credited to memorandum accounts of WRS participants who suspend their annuities in order to return to covered employment.
  • Enables the Secretary of ETF to require retirees to receive their benefit payments electronically.
  • Clarifies ETF’s Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) law to more closely mirror federal law.
  • Removes references to Transaction Amortization Account.
  • Eliminates redundant reference to Federated Library System.
  • Clarifies and distinguishes initial eligibility to receive an annuity and return to work requirements.
  • Eliminates a requirement under the WRS that an application for an annuity may not be filed more than 90 days before the employee’s anticipated termination date from employment.
  • Changes application deadlines for an employer to join the WRS.

For More Information

  • If you are interested in monitoring legislative developments more closely, you may want to check out the Wisconsin State Legislature website.

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