2019 Omnibus Pension Bill Passed Unanimously
(May 28, 2019) The Minnesota Legislature completed its 2019 work last week after five months of deliberations and a 24-hour Special Session. This overnight “overtime” was used to pass our state’s next two-year budget and various policy provisions. The 2019 Omnibus Pension Bill passed unanimously and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Walz sometime this week.
Last year’s comprehensive pension reforms greatly reduced the need for substantive changes this year. So while several provisions in the 2019 Pension Bill do affect MSRS, they are generally administrative in nature, make no benefit adjustments, and should not require implementation procedures within our departments.
Besides removing obsolete language, the bill:
Clarifies aspects of our benefit application process, the most important being that an application is not complete until an original (paper) application and supporting documents are received by MSRS;
Clarifies that Unclassified Plan members are permitted to vote in MSRS board member elections;
Authorizes MSRS to collect past-due contributions from Fire Marshall and Military Affairs plan members who elected the special coverage within 90 days of their employment. Previously statute only allowed us to collect for 60 days.
2019 Session Relatively Quiet for MSRS
(May 2, 2019) Compared to recent year sessions, the 2019 legislative session has been relatively quiet for the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS). This is due in large part to the successful passage of the 2018 Omnibus Retirement Bill: In addition to promoting pension sustainability, the numerous adjustments made to MSRS’ governing statutes by that bill also reduced the need for significant legislative action this year.
The 2019 MSRS’ legislative priorities are contained in a short administrative bill (H.F. 2632/S.F. 2583), which cleans up plan administration guidelines and clarifies several ambiguous statutes. MSRS Executive Director, Erin Leonard, presented this bill to the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) on March 19, where it was aptly described by the LCPR Chair as an “old-fashioned, ordinary housekeeping bill.” This legislation has since become the vehicle for the 2019 Omnibus Retirement Bill, which contains various provisions for Minnesota’s other public retirement systems.
In addition to assembling our administrative bill, MSRS has also been at the capitol in recent months to hold introductory conversations with individual legislators. These have revolved around our retirement plans, the power of pensions to stimulate local economies, and the changes that were made by the 2018 Omnibus Retirement Bill. Legislators have reacted positively and commented on the good health and responsible administration of our retirement funds.
Only two-and-a-half weeks remain before the 2019 legislative session must adjourn on May 20. The House and Senate are regularly meeting well into the night and are working with Governor Walz’s administration on the 2020 and 2021 state budgets. We expect action on the 2019 Omnibus Retirement Bill (and therefore our housekeeping provisions) to occur near the May 20th deadline, after the larger omnibus spending and policy bills have been passed.
For more information on the status of the pension bill, check out the LCPR Website.